Tom RostonIndependent journalist Tom Roston checks in and writes about the world of documentaries in his column, Doc Soup.

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Doc Soup: The Tribeca Institute: More Than Just a Film Festival

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As the curtain closes on another hectic festival — the Tribeca Film Festival — it’s worth taking a peek at some of the work that continues to go on after the red carpets get rolled up and put away.

Still from Sons of Perdition

Ryan Harrington, who works with the Tribeca Film Institute’s Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund and I spoke about the Fund’s plans for the rest of the year. He was still beaming over the premiere screening of the Gucci-funded Sons of Perdition, the film about teens who have run away from polygamist sects. He was particularly excited about how three of the teens featured in the film came to the festival and were awed to be treated like celebrities. It’s a common occurrence at festivals, and, as far as I can tell, it’s a win-win situation: doc subjects love the attention, the filmmakers get to reward their subjects, the film itself gets better promoted, and audiences are ecstatic about seeing the subjects in the flesh.

Tribeca took things to another level by having a pizza party for the stars of Perdition with the Tribeca Institute Film Fellows, 20 of the city’s teens who are part of a youth development program. According to Harrington, it was a “surreal” meeting of different cultures of youth. The 20 fellows go through a six-week program in which they learn the craft and business of film, after which they receive college and career counseling. I think I’ll look into following the program next year.

As for the Gucci Fund, it provides finishing funds for documentaries, as it did with Sons of Perdition, and Harrington says that the new slate of recipients will be announced after the Cannes Film Festival. He says that there will be another seven recipients, and he alluded to more news coming. I’m not sure what that means exactly — more money perhaps? A wider slate next year?

The Tribeca Institute has other year-round programs, including a free screening series where they show films (including docs such as Climate of Change and Earth Made of Glass) to students as well as a program called Cameras to Classrooms, which helps fund film classes in needy schools.

Clearly, the work continues after the festival lights dim down…

Tom Roston
Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He comes to us as a ten-year veteran of Premiere magazine, where he was a Senior Editor, and where he wrote the column, Notes from the Dream Factory. Tom was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, GQ, New York, Elle and other publications. Tom's favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi - Godfrey Reggio 2. Hoop Dreams - Steve James 3. The Up series - Michael Apted 4. Crumb - Terry Zwigoff 5. Capturing the Friedmans - Andrew Jarecki