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Behind the scenes with WeTransfer and Tribeca Festival

Why we partnered with the iconic film festival for our latest short film launch


I think loneliness is something that we all have felt in our lives and that’s what Nobody is going through at the moment when we meet this character...

Earlier this year, as he stood on stage accepting his first ever Academy Award, director Cord Jefferson offered his plea to the film industry. He pleaded with the powers that be in Hollywood to take more chances, to stop pedaling the same old $200m franchises and instead invest in new voices to bring fresh stories and a more diverse perspective to our screens. It was an impassioned speech that was shared across the press, and across social media, screenshotted by many an emerging filmmaker emphatically captioned by a single word: THIS.

The Brown Dog premieres at ‪@tribeca‬ film festival

It’s no secret that the film industry has felt a little stale in recent years, and the challenges that face filmmakers have only been mounting. There have been calls for more representation and new perspectives, streaming has cut the number of movie theater goers, there are less risks being taken and it’s harder than ever for independent filmmakers to get their work financed or distributed. Thankfully then, there are still film festivals like Tribeca that are committed to uplifting independent cinema and spotlighting emerging talent. Earlier this year, Tribeca even stepped back into the distribution arena by launching Tribeca Films, a distribution label that aims to support independent films from the festival circuit.

“The Tribeca Festival has always bet big on independent films and for more than two decades, has championed emerging filmmakers by providing a global platform to showcase their projects.” said Tribeca co-founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal. “Too many new voices are not reaching audiences.”

This is music to our ears, and it’s exactly why WeTransfer decided to become an official sponsor and partner of Tribeca Festival for 2024. Since WeTransfer started 15 years ago we’ve held onto the belief that creativity can change the world and have worked hard to ensure that we’re championing new voices and helping creatives get their ideas out there. Our arts platform WePresent spotlights a diverse range of artists each month and to date has featured more than 1000 creatives from over 120 countries around the world. It’s through WePresent that we turned our hand to film commissioning too, to date commissioning just under 20 short films and even winning an Academy Award in 2022 for The Long Goodbye, a film by Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia. Whether it’s first time directors or those with an established name our goal is simple: tell important stories.

I think loneliness is something that we all have felt in our lives and that’s what Nobody is going through at the moment when we meet this character...

— co-Director Nadia Hallgren

We continued that mission this year at Tribeca Festival with The Brown Dog, our latest film commission that had its New York premiere on June 14. Directed by Nadia Hallgren and Jamie-James Medina the animated film is made especially poignant through its affecting protagonist, voiced by the late Michael K. Williams in his last posthumous release. His friend and Boardwalk Empire castmate Steve Buscemi stars as a secondary character in the film, as well as serving as executive producer.

Delving into themes that will be relatable to many, The Brown Dog examines the feelings of isolation that speak to those living on the margins of the so-called American dream. It deals with themes of loneliness, of belonging and of yearning to be accepted. The short animated film follows “NOBODY,” a watchman who composes endless security logs in the dead of night before abandoning his post to search for a mysterious brown dog, slipping further and further into the depths of his unmoored subconscious. To bring this film back to New York, and to celebrate lifelong New Yorker Michael K. Williams felt like a full circle moment. At a preview screening of the film the directors sat down with writer and New Yorker journalist Doreen St Felix to discuss the main themes of the film and the life that the filmmakers hope it will have once it’s out in the world. “I think loneliness is something that we all have felt in our lives and that’s what Nobody is going through at the moment when we meet this character,” Nadia said. “He’s trying to make sense of his place in the world, and a lot of people can relate to that.”

The Brown Dog will next screen at Raindance Festival in London on June 25th before continuing its festival run this summer. Keep an eye on our social channels for sneak peeks and watch this space for further announcements.

And while the launch of The Brown Dog was a particular highlight of our Tribeca experience, it wasn’t the only one. As part of this year’s Tribeca X (a two-day event celebrating the best in branded storytelling) our Chief Creative officer Damian Bradfield sat down with film expert and the founder of Sub Genre Brian Newman to discuss what it takes to cut through the crowded industry to create branded work that can actually be counted as entertainment, that can turn passive audiences into active ones. When content is ubiquitous, how do you stand out?

The eye-opening discussion covered everything from what happens to branded content once the artist has done their part, to how brands can use the art of storytelling to bolster their value proposition, to how picking the right avenue for distribution can help brand’s create impact and influence. And for those of you who were not furiously scribbling notes in the audience, the key takeaway could be summed up as this: Lead with the story, lead with heart, lead with originality, trust the artists you collaborate with and above all else, just please, please don’t be boring. Not a bad set of rules to adhere to if you ask us.

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