Tribeca® Digital Studios in partnership with American Express have co-produced a series of three short films that celebrate small businesses and the creators at the forefront of the entrepreneurial renaissance. Academy Award®-nominated filmmakers Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp), and Gini Reticker (Pray the Devil Back to Hell) have brought stories to life that explore the nature, shifts, and struggles of young business development; the pioneers, inventors, and dreamers at the helm of these ambitions; and the impact these ventures have on their communities.
The films debuted July 15 on a host of cable on-demand platforms in over 40 million homes including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Cablevision, Cox and Brighthouse, Vimeo, interactive smart TV app American Express NOW, the American Express YouTube Channel, and American Express OPEN Forum, an online community for small businesses to inspire and help them grow.
The three films in the series are as follows:
Buffalo Returns, directed by Gini Reticker: In the face of a powerful recession, crippling unemployment and a housing crisis, a small, creative and energetic band of Native American businesspeople, with the help of the buffalo, rebuild their community through a growing business, Native American Natural Foods, the company behind Tanka energy bars. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Gini Reticker weaves together beautiful imagery set to the pulse of the Sioux Nation to carefully tell the story of two entrepreneurs who use tradition and ingenuity to bring opportunity and hope to the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation. After nearly going extinct, the buffalo has returned, bringing a chance for prosperity to the Lakota people.
A Dream Preferred, directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing: The future of Taharka Brothers, purveyors of ice cream and social change, hinges on the success of a crowdfunding campaign. If successful, they will be able to grow their business by launching a “Food for Thought” ice cream truck, a literal vehicle for change. With a looming deadline, and what seems like an insurmountable goal:$28,000 in 29 days, Taharka Brothers takes to the streets to raise awareness, inspire, and turn out some supremely delicious ice cream – voted Best in Baltimore. Progress is slow and defeat starts to set in, until a pivotal phone call. Filmmakers Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing take us behind the scenes in a fun, yet poignant portrayal of young men from Baltimore’s toughest neighborhoods as they struggle with entrepreneurship, sharpen their business strategy and inspire their community. Baltimore has a positive and empowering story to tell. The Taharka Brothers’ ingenuity and character are an inspiration to all. When you fight for what you believe in, dreams happen.
The Downtown Project, directed by Morgan Spurlock: Far from the bright lights and the resounding ka-ching of booming commerce on the Vegas strip is another side of Sin City; Downtown Vegas prides itself on hard work and the development of local businesses to inspire a growing entrepreneurial spirit within the community. A local initiative known as The Downtown Project champions small businesses by partnering with owners to make dreams happen and to bring a community out of the shadows.
Unique businesses like EAT, an award winning restaurant owned by Chef Natalie Young, The Hydrant Park, a desert oasis for locals and their pets, Stitch Factory, a fashion and creative co-working studio, and Turntable Health, a physician’s group with a specialized focus on the medical needs of their neighbors, are some of Downtown Projects’ most notable successes that are helping to revitalize the Las Vegas community. The entrepreneurial momentum in downtown Las Vegas has many exciting people flocking to this once depressed area to follow their dreams and to be a part of something life-changing. Renowned filmmaker Morgan Spurlock follows this tantalizing journey through the unique characters finding prosperity in the most unlikely places. Their passion is infectious and, thanks to The Downtown Project, life is thriving again in downtown Vegas for the first time since the 1950’s.