Tribeca Film Institute’s IF/Then Short Documentary Program


Tuesday, Sep. 12 at 7:00pm

The 26th Whitaker St Louis International Film Festival (held from Nov. 2-12, 2017) is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Tribeca Film Institute to stimulate the art of short-form documentary storytelling.

Calling all filmmakers living and working in the American Midwest: a new short-film pitch competition for Tribeca Film Institute’s IF/Then Short Documentary Program is now open for submissions!

Tribeca Film Institute, in partnership with St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), is currently seeking short documentary projects directed by filmmakers living and working in the American Midwest for the IF/Then Short Documentary Program. IF/Then is a new program developed by Tribeca Film Institute with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Its goal is to discover and empower more inclusive voices in short film storytelling and give wider access to thoughtful stories from people of all backgrounds.

Up to six projects will be selected for a pitch competition, to be held in St. Louis during SLIFF on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. The winner, selected by a professional jury, will be eligible for up to $20,000 in production support from IF/Then, as well as ongoing mentorship year-round – in person or virtually – and will participate in a year-long distribution initiative managed by Tribeca Film Institute that offers creative control, revenue potential and career development.


You are a filmmaker living and working in the American Midwest and are telling stories of the American Midwest. These 12 states include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Eligible projects must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an original short documentary with a final duration (TRT) under 40 minutes
  • Be completed within 3-6 months of receiving the IF/Then grant
  • Be factually accurate, follow best practices in documentary ethics and be designed for a U.S. audience
  • Be driven by (a) compelling character(s), with access to the character(s) secured
  • Be presented in English or subtitled in English
  • Have no prior distribution attached and be able to participate in the IF/Then distribution initiative

Projects that we DO NOT support:

  • Student projects
  • Feature-length documentaries, series or cut-downs of completed films
  • Films that are made to support an advocacy campaign
  • Films with distribution attached

Projects will be prioritized based on the following criteria:

  • Artistic quality
  • Originality and social relevance
  • Robust storytelling that brings new facts, perspectives and under-represented stories to light
  • Financial feasibility
  • Potential to travel

Applications are only accepted via our online submission form at this link:

Application deadline: Friday, Sept. 15, 2017

We urge you to have the following ready before you begin the online application process:

  • Working title and project basics (TRT, languages, etc.)
  • Logline (75 word max)
  • Project description (250 word max)
  • Synopsis/treatment (500 word max)
  • Project status (250 word max)
  • Funding status (250 word max)
  • Distribution and rights status (250 word max)
  • Name and contact info for up to 2 pitch members – including 175-word bio each
  • Link to video sample (3 minutes max) presenting the project/characters
  • Link to photo that best represents the project


Up to six projects will be selected to enter the IF/Then pitch competition during SLIFF on Nov. 12, 2017. Finalists will be notified in late September, early October.

If chosen as a finalist, it is mandatory that you participate in the event. You will have to finance the flight and hotel expenses yourself; however, you will receive an Industry accreditation for SLIFF free of charge.

On Nov. 12, each pitch team will have a maximum of 7 minutes to present their project. All visual material will be part of your 7-minute presentation, and the material can be no more than 3 minutes long.

Each pitch is followed by a short, moderated discussion with a tailored jury.


Applications are only accepted via our online submission form

Application deadline:
Friday, Sept. 15, 2017


Registration opens:
Aug. 1, 2017

Application deadline:
Sept. 15, 2017

Notification of project selection:
Late September, early October

Pitch competition in St. Louis:
Nov. 12, 2017


Please check our F.A.Q.

If you have any remaining questions regarding IF/Then at SLIFF, Email us.