Tribeca All Access, the year-round diversity initiative of the Tribeca Film Institute, handed out a total of $55,000 in cash prizes with its awards last night in New York.

The Creative Promise Award winners were Miguel Aviles for Somnium (narrative); Andrew Bui for Bronxopolis (emerging narrative); George Reyes for The Ugly Doll (La Muneca Fea) (documentary); and Jinho Ferreira aka Piper for Walter’s Boys (screenwriting).
Honorable mentions went to: Jennifer Phang for Look For Water (narrative); Hugo Perez for The Immaculate Conception (emerging narrative); and Stephen Maing for High Tech, Low Life (documentary).

In other awards, Jennifer Phang won the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Vision Award for her screenplay Look For Water, and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation Screenwriting Fellowship, for women film-makers, was awarded to Ana Lily Amirpour for Tehran-set drama The Stones.
Jurors voting on the 27 projects were Viola Davis, Sanaa Lathan, Fenton Bailey, Anne Carey, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Luis Guzman, Darnell Martin, Amy Robindson, Ellen Kuras, Lola Ogunnaike and Lance Reddick.

Also at the awards night, Tribeca Film Festival and TFI co-founder Robert De Niro was on hand to announce a new partnership with The Nelson Mandela Foundation and 46664 to create the Mandela Day TAA Award, which will provide five $10,000 grants for short films. Submissions open June 8 for that initiative.

Jane Rosenthal, Tribeca Film Institute and Tribeca Film Festival co-founder, said that TAA “helps to open doors for those who need it most.” The programme introduces the film industry to film-makers from traditionally under-represented groups.

More than 100 investors, producers and other industry executives had more than 430 meetings with the participants.

This year’s programme included workshops and seminars for the first time. Participating film-makers said those were quite useful and they’d like to see talks and workshops expanded in future editions.

For the second year, TAA collaborated with the UK Film Council, Screen Australia and the Canadian Film Centre to bring six international projects to the mix (two from each territory).

David Alexander was one of the UK writer/directors attending this year, with his low-budget East London-set teen drama Together. “The programme is especially good for international film-makers because you get the right meetings and you’re also privy to the expectations of the American film industry,” he told ScreenDaily. “TAA is not just about introducing this specific project, it’s introducing yourself as a film-maker. People are also interested in what you want to do in the future.” To that end, Alexander has also been discussing another feature, Love Me, a bigger-budget and more accessible story of young people’s relationships.

Even for a more well-established participant, TAA has been useful. Benny Boom is the CEO of music video and commercials powerhouse Gorilla Flix. He has also directed Summit’s forthcoming feature Next Day Air, which hits US cinemas May 8. But as he moves into directing based on his own screenplays (the first is $15m street hustler drama The Unforgiving Minute), TAA has been a valuable platform. “I’ve gotten really good feedback here,” he says, impressed with meetings with the likes of Overture Films, Baccus Films and Columbia Pictures. “It’s not only about providing us with access to these experts, but also to each other. Some of these people will work together in the future.” He is financing The Unforgiving Minute now and hopes to shoot by the end of 2009.

Tamir Muhammad, director of TAA, was bullish on how well this year’s programme had gone. “It’s starting to resonate in the industry that we are a year-round programme, not just during the festival. The calibre of emerging and established film-makers in the programme has really been noted. And it’s very important that we’re not just working with domestic film-makers, but international talent as well.”

At the festival, TAA alumni having premieres were Nicole Opper with Off And Running; Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte with Entre Nos; and Crayton Robey with the work-in-progress documentary Making The Boys.

TFI’s other initiatives include youth programmes, the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, and the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund (which also announced winners last night.)