Meet the New Filmmakers Awarded at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

With the demand for quality film and television product seemingly at peak levels, the industry continues to look to major film festivals for discovering new screen talent.

New York continues to rival Los Angeles for surfacing new filmmakers and no East Coast spectacle is more important than the annual Tribeca Film Festival, which has long held the reputation for championing fresh voices since it was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2002.

The 16th annual Tribeca Film Festival screened 98 feature-length titles and 57 shorts, not to mention various TV, interactive and alternative works. This year’s event also saw a combination of record high submissions and a reduced screening program, resulting in the most competitive lineup in the festival’s history. The 10 short film competition programs, which included five narrative, four documentary and one animated, was again highly selective and based on a massive 4,385 submissions. Basically being selected to screen was a win in itself. Read our review of short filmmakers to watch at Tribeca 2017.

New Machine lists a few fast facts on the new filmmakers awarded at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

Directors Rachel Israel and Angus MacLachlan

The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, Best New Narrative Feature – Keep the Change, written and directed by Rachel Israel

  • Winner of both the Best Narrative Feature and Best New Narrative Director prizes at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Variety magazine says the film is ” an ode to self-discovery and acceptance that’s as funny as it is sweet”.
  • Based on her 2013 short of the same name, which won the Festival Award at the Columbia University Film Festival.
  • The feature tells the story of a couple who meet at a support group for adults on autism spectrum and stars Brandon Polansky and Samantha Elisofan. The film is based on Brandon’s life.
  • Rachel earned her BFA/MFA from Columbia University in New York. She teaches film at the Rhode Island School of Design.
  • Brandon Polansky, who also starred in the short become friends with Rachel after they met a nude drawing class.
  • Keep the Change was self funded through a combination of crowdsourcing and grants such as from The Sundance Institute.
  • Rachel works as a volunteer at the Adaptions Program at JCC in Manhattan. She received the Princess Grace Award in 2008.
  • Rachel is influenced by filmmakers Milos Foreman, Woody Allen, Mike Nicols, Jane Campion and Jill Soloway. Her advice to emerging directors is “follow the subjects that move you and don’t be afraid of looking stupid”.

Learn more about Rachel in IMDB.

Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Abundant Acreage Available written by Angus MacLachlan

  • Angus wrote and directed Abundant Average Available, his second feature after 2014’s Goodbye to All That, which was nominated in the best narrative feature category at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
  • His previous screenplays Junebug (2005) won best screenplay at the Shanghai International Film Festival and the International Cinephile Society Awards and was followed by Stone (2010), which starred Robert De Niro, Milla Jovovich and Edward Norton.
  • Angus graduated from the North Carolina School of Arts in 1980. He is based in Winston-Salem North Carolina.

Learn more about Angus on IMDB.

Directors Elina Psykou, Kaveh Mazaheri, Ben Holman, Laura Moss

The Best International Narrative Feature – Son of Sofia (O Gios tis Sofias) written and directed by Elina Psykou (Greece, Bulgaria, France)

  • Son of Sofia was written and directed by Greek filmmaker Elina Psykou and stars Viktor Khomut, Valery Tcheplanowa, Thanasis Papageorgiou, Artemis Havalits, Christos Stergioglou and Iro Maltezou.
  • Elina studied filmmaking at Lykourgos Stavrakos Film School and sociology at Panteion University in Athens. In 2007, she participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus.
  • Her debut feature The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas was well received by festival juries and critics alike in 2014, winning the FIPRESCI prize at the Thessaloniki Film Festival and earning both the Newcomer and Best Feature Award from the Hellenic Film Academy. Elina was also named as one of the Ten European Directors to Watch at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
  • Indiewire said that Son of Sofia, which is set during the 2004 Athens Olympics, “follows the dark, coming-of-age story of Misha, a highly imaginative 11-year old boy who travels from Russia to Athens to join his mother after a long time apart. Unbeknownst to Misha, a new father awaits for him there.”
  • Elina said the theme of the film is identity formation, particularly as the young character Misha forms his own in an unstable environment.
  • The film is bilingual, with characters speaking in both Greek and Russian. Elina does not speak Russian.

Follow Elina on Facebook or learn more about her on IMDB.


Best Narrative Short – Retouch, directed by Kaveh Mazaheri (Iran)

  • From director, writer and cinematographer Kaveh Mazaheri.
  • Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran. He graduated with an engineering degree from Iran University of Science and Technology.
  • His interest in film led Kaveh to begin writing film criticism for Iranian magazines.
  • ‘Retouch’ also won Crystal Simorgh for Best Short Film at Fajr Film Festival 2017.
  • The short is about Maryam’s husband, who has an accident at home and, rather than saving him, she stops helping and watches him die.
  • His documentary feature A Report About Mina (2015) won best film as an Expressionist Narrative at Berlin Black International Cinema Festival.
  • A Report About Mina also screened at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in 2015, where it won the New Asian Currents, Special Mention, and was nominated for the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize.
  • Kaveh’s short documentary from 2010, Soori’s Trip was nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film at the IBAFF International Film Festival.
  • His first short film, Tweezers (2007), was censored in Iran.
  • Kaveh’s reasoning behind becoming a filmmaker stems from his need to understand his childhood and the difficult experiences he faced as a young boy.

Learn more about Kaveh on IMDB

Best Animated Short – Odd is an Egg (Odd er et egg) directed by Kristin Ulseth (Norway)

  • From producer, writer and director Kristin Ulseth.
  • Kristin, who was born in Norway and has a BA in Film and Photography from Harrow College, University of Westminster in London.
  • She has worked professionally in the Nordic film and television industry since early 90s.
  • Odd is an Egg is her first animated short film as a director
  • The story is an adaptation of Lisa Aisato’s children’s book Odd er et egg and is about Odd’s life which is turned upside down one day when he falls in love, freeing him from worries in the most unexpected way.
  • The short was a co-production with Qvisten Animation in Oslo, Sparkle Animation in Portugal and Lisa Aisato, who served as the art designer. She is particularly interested in projects that focus on children.
  • In 2008 she started working at Maipo Film, where she developed a 360° media project in 2013 which included an animated TV-series, feature film and app-game.
  • At Maipo Film she produced the live action feature Gilbert’s Grim Revenge, and the app-game Gilbert’s Eggggg.
  • Kristin also serves on various festival juries that judge Nordic and Baltic short films.

Follow Kristin on Facebook or Linkedin or learn more about her background on IMDB.

Best Documentary Short – The Good Fight directed by Ben Holman (U.S., UK, Brazil)

  • From director, editor and producer Ben Holman.
  • Ben is an Englishman who divides his time between London and Rio de Janeiro.
  • He comes from an advertising background and worked as an art director for a number of advertising agencies including Saatchi and Saatchi, Grey, JWT and DLKW.
  • He decided to buy a camera in order to travel the world and make his own films, he ultimately decided to focus on the documentary genre.
  • The Good Fight is about one man who dreams of finding salvation and building a better future for his son and his community through his boxing project.
  • Ben also worked as an assistant director, researcher, art director and storyboard artist. He has worked on many commercials and music videos, including Nike, Guinness and Levis Jeans.

Follow Ben on Instagram and Vimeo or learn more at IMDB.

Student Visionary Award – Fry Day directed by Laura Moss (U.S.)

  • From the production designer and director Laura Moss.
  • She graduated from NYU’s famed Tisch film program.
  • Her latest short comedy Fry Day won the SXSW Film Design Award for Excellence in Poster Design and was nominated for the SXSW Grand Jury Award in the Narrative Short.
  • Fry Day is about an adolescent girl who comes of age against the backdrop of serial killer Ted Bundy’s execution in 1989.
  • Her first feature screenplay Gordon made NYU’s 2014 Purple List, was selected by IFP for their Emerging Storyteller’s Program.
  • At the Boston International Film Festival 2009 she was awarded Best Director for her feature, Rising Up.
  • Laura’s work has screened at MoMA and Anthology Film Archives in New York.

Follow Laura on Twitter or learn more on IMDB.