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Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Awards

The Tribeca All Access Connects (TAA) program, which fosters relationships between U.S.-based filmmakers of color and the film industry, announced today the winners of the second Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Awards.

At last night’s Tribeca All Access Connects Awards and Closing Party at the Tribeca Grand, sponsored by the Playboy Foundation:

Dennis Lee won the award for the narrative section prize for his current screenplay “The Life & Times of H.J. Hermin. Dennis has previously directed a short film entitled “Jesus Henry Christ;”

Usama Alshaibi won the award for documentary section prize for his documentary proposal “Nice Bombs;” and

Mario de La Vega won the award for the screenplay section prize for his screenplay “The Undeniable Charm of Sloppy Unruh.”

The winners were selected upon the strength of their vision and filmmaking promise. The TAA Creative Promise Award offers a prize of $10,000 for narrative and documentary and $5,000 for screenplay. All of the filmmakers participating in the program have scripts or documentary proposals for which they are seeking funding.

“Filmmakers of color are underrepresented in the industry; Tribeca All Access connects them with influential people, expands their reach and helps them succeed,” said De Niro. “We congratulate this year’s winners and look forward to seeing great things from them in the future.”

“The flood of entries we received in 2005 confirmed that there is a vast, unrecognized pool of filmmaking talent waiting to be discovered,” said Rosenthal. “This year’s Festival slate featured the exceptional winners from the 2004 TAA program. We have already begun to see the fruits of this initiative.”

“Tribeca All Access has flourished in its second year and become a very important and impactful program for filmmakers of color,” said Madelyn Wils, President and CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute. “We are proud and excited to nurture the 30 filmmakers who are participating with us this year and look forward to working with them on moving their projects into production.”

In its second year Tribeca All Access Connects received more than 350 submissions from narrative and documentary directors and the program’s newest component, screenwriters. A jury of distinguished entertainment and arts personalities selected the three winners.

Jurors for the narrative and screenplay categories included Antoine Fuqua, Director of “King Arthur” and “Training Day;” Academy Award-nominated actress Rosie Perez; Lisa-Gay Hamilton, actress and director of last year’s “Beah: A Black Woman Speaks;” “Amores Perros” and “21Grams” screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga; director Chris Eyre of “Smoke Signals;” and actor B.D. Wong from “Seven Years in Tibet” and “Law & Order SVU.”

Narrative winner Dennis Lee is set to direct ”The Life & Times of H.J. Hermin” (which he also wrote) which tells the story of 13-year-old genius and college freshman Henry James Hermin on his quest to solve an unbreakable computer code and find his biological father. Lee previously directed the short film “Jesus Henry Christ.”

Screenplay winner Mario de Le Vega’s “The Undeniable Charm of the Sloppy Unruh” tells the dramatic tale of charismatic 1950s con artist Sloppy Unruh who returns to his hometown in Texas determined to con his way back into his family’s good graces.

Documentary winner Usama Alshaibi’s documentary will document he and his father’s journey through the terrain of war torn Iraq after a 24-year exile.

Jurors for the documentary category included Sheila Nevins, President of Documentary and Family Programming for HBO; Warrington Hudlin, producer of “House Party;” poet and musician John Trudell and documentary director St. Clair Bourne.

The centerpiece of Tribeca All Access Connects was a slate of individually tailored half-hour meetings between participating directors and screenwriters and over 100 industry decision-makers, including private investors, production companies, development executives, agents and managers. Over the course of four days, Tribeca All Access Connects arranged over 500 meetings for program participants.

As part of the program, Tribeca All Access Connects hosted two orientation panels for the filmmakers called “A Case Study, Al Otro Lado/To the Other Side” and “Beyond the Pitch.” On the first, Natalia Almada discussed her experience at TAA Connects in 2004. She was joined by a panel of supporters who were instrumental in helping to complete her film, which made it’s world premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, including award-winning editor Sam Pollard; producer Tommaso Fiacchino (Cherry Road Films); Luis Ortiz, Program Manager, Open Call – Latino Public Broadcasting. The panel was moderated by Debra Zimmerman, Executive Director of Women Make Movies. For the second panel a number of seasoned industry members offered filmmakers their advice for making the most of their one-on-one meetings. Panelists included Tracey Kemble, SVP of Edmonds Entertainment; Antonio Sosa, VP of Multicultural Sales for Warner Home Video; independent producer Effie T. Brown (Real Women Have Curves) and Buena Vista Creative Executive Todd Murata. The panel was moderated by Vanessa Arteaga, Senior Executive for programming and production for Wellspring Media.

Tribeca All Access Connects also included its second Signature Series, an initiative that provides a forum for established directors of color to debut work. Participants included Rose Troche, who launched “In A Country of Mothers” (a new A.M. Homes adaptation); a two-part documentary by St. Clair Bourne entitled “The Black Panther Party For Self-Defense;” and “The Marriage Celebrant,” a comedy written and directed by Barbara Wong, a New York-based director whose latest film, “Six Strong Guys,” topped the box office in Hong Kong.

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