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Press Release -- May 25th, 2023
Source: AT&T

AT&T Reveals 2023’s Untold Stories Committee and Finalists

This year’s winner will receive $1M to take their pitch from idea to full-length feature film that will debut at the 2024 Tribeca Festival.


Key Takeaways:

  • Winner to receive $1M to take their pitch from idea to full-length feature film that will debut at the 2024 Tribeca Festival
  • Jury Committee includes actors Derek Luke, Mo McRae and AT&T Chief Marketing & Growth Officer Kellyn Smith Kenny
  • 2022 winner “Smoking Tigers” to make world premiere and is the first Untold Stories film to be entered in the U.S. Narrative Competition at Tribeca Festival

What’s the news?

AT&T*, together with Tribeca Festival, is once again connecting emerging, historically underrepresented filmmakers to greater possibilities with the sixth installment of AT&T Presents: Untold Stories – an annual pitch competition and year-round mentorship program. This year’s winner will receive $1M to take their pitch from idea to full-length feature film that will debut at the 2024 Tribeca Festival.

2023 Untold Stories finalists include:

  • David Fortune (Atlanta, GA) – “Color Book”
  • Maria Mealla (La Paz, Bolivia)  – “Body Shop”
  • Miguel Angel Caballero (Los Angeles, CA) – “Angel In Retrograde”
  • Moon Molson (Grand Rapids, MI) – “Hyper/Space”
  • Selyna Warren and Marissa Read (North Shore of Chicago, IL and  Bellingham, WA) – “Bat Mitzvah”

Finalists will pitch their story ideas at Spring Studios in New York City at the AT&T Untold Stories Lounge on Friday, June 9, to an accomplished, expert panel of jurors including actor Derek Luke (“Antwone Fisher,” “Glory Road” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”), Kellyn Smith Kenny (Chief Marketing and Growth Officer, AT&T), and actor/producer Mo McRae (“A Lot of Nothing”), “The First Purge” and “Wild”). The panel will be moderated by journalist and host Brooke Baldwin.

Also at this year’s Festival, the 2022 Untold Stories winner “Smoking Tigers” directed and written by first generation Korean-American filmmaker Shelly Yo, will make its debut on June 10th at Village East Cinema, showcasing this program’s remarkable success. The film will also be granted a dedicated first look opportunity with HBO Max. It is also the first Untold Stories film to be entered in the U.S. Narrative Competition at Tribeca Festival.

Set in Los Angeles in the early 2000s, “Smoking Tigers” is a portrait of a lonely 16-year-old Korean American girl named Hayoung who is taken under the wings of three wealthy students she meets at an elite academic boot-camp. As she falls deeper into their world, Hayoung works harder to hide her problematic family and lower-income background from her new friends, only to discover the bittersweet pains of adulthood that will forever shape her life.

Why it Matters

AT&T joined forces with Tribeca to unite communities through innovative storytelling across film, TV, games and more. Since the beginning of the program in 2017, AT&T has rewarded over $6M to connect historically underrepresented filmmakers with the resources needed to reach greater possibilities.

Most recently, the 2021 winning film “Land of Gold” from Nardeep Khurmi went on to receive a limited theatrical debut before premiering on MAX, where the film can now reach millions across the globe. Critics have called the film “emotional and artistic” and “an unvarnished view of the immigrant experience.”

In addition to the $1M award, AT&T and Tribeca assist the winner throughout development, production, and marketing of their film, offering mentorship opportunities with industry experts along the way. Since its inception in 2017, the Untold Stories program has received an impressive 1.5K submissions, with an outstanding 350 submissions pouring in this year alone—marking a record-breaking milestone for the program for the most submissions.

What are people saying?

“The Untold Stories program is a perfect example of AT&T’s purpose in action. We are all about connecting people to greater possibility, and on June 9th one talented filmmaker’s life will forever change,” said Kellyn Smith Kenny, chief marketing and growth officer, AT&T. “We’ve seen firsthand that shining a spotlight on underrepresented voices – like Shelly Yo, Nardeep Khurmi, Kate Tsang, Sasie Sealy, Banban Cheng and Faraday Okoro – ignites a chain reaction of inspiring communities and unlocking new opportunities that leads to greater possibility.”

“Untold Stories is a testament to the incredible impact that can be created when the voices of historically underrepresented filmmakers are elevated and meaningful financial support and guidance is provided,” said Tribeca CEO and Co-Founder Jane Rosenthal. “We are so grateful for our multi-year collaboration with AT&T on this one-of-a-kind mentorship program. The Tribeca Festival is especially proud to welcome 2022 Untold Stories winner “Smoking Tigers” to this year’s festival – the very first Untold Stories film to be entered in the U.S. Narrative Competition.”

Additional information about the 2023 films and filmmakers:

“Angel In Retrograde” by Miguel Angel Caballero
After a car accident, Angel awakens from a coma with retrograde amnesia, unaware of the last 20 years. As he attempts to adapt to a middle-aged life with a wife and a teenage daughter, Angel unexpectedly reignites his attraction with his high school best friend, Joshua.

“Bat Mitzvah” by Selyna Warren and Marissa Read
Babe Brenner, broke and stumbling through early adulthood, makes a wager with her Bubi to advance her inheritance by getting Bat Mitzvah’ed by her 30th. Forced to attend Hebrew school with a bunch of hormonal 12-year-olds, her new tween-age besties teach Babe the real meaning of becoming a woman.

“Body Shop” by Maria Mealla
In an alternate reality where “body shops” replace hospitals, Lupe’s body suffers an accident that forces her into the loaner frame of a white Anglo woman. Desperate to expedite the repairs, Lupe ventures to a rumored black market to source skin that matches her true identity.

“Color Book” by David Fortune
Following the passing of his wife, a devoted father is learning to raise his son with Down Syndrome as a single parent. While adjusting to their new reality, the two embark on a journey through Metro Atlanta to attend their first baseball game.

“Hyper/Space” by Moon Molson
An urban Black Millennial, suffering from a bundle of unnamed neurological disorders, is launched into a low-key manic quest to unravel the mystery of his mother’s death after his live-in girlfriend “disappears.”

Passes and Tickets for the 2023 Tribeca Festival are on sale now at “Smoking Tigers” premieres June 10th at Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003.

For more information, visit Untold Stories.

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