Yeti’s Inaugural Pretty Wild Fellowship Grants $200,000 to Four Documentaries (EXCLUSIVE)

Four documentary filmmakers have been selected to participate in Yeti’s inaugural Pretty Wild fellowship program, which supports documentaries that give a fresh perspective on the outdoors and the people and stories that live there.

The projects are: Tasha Van Zandt’s “The Arctic Women,” Mike Day’s “Baby Highlander,” Emily Cohen Ibañez’s “River” and Juliana Schatz Preston’s “Rare Bird.”

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The four filmmakers, chosen from 330 submissions spanning 30 countries, are currently in Austin, Texas, for the first of two immersive retreats featured in the eight-month program.

In addition to $50,000 in unrestricted grants, each of the four selected filmmakers will receive guidance throughout the development of their films from a board of mentors. That includes the retreat in Austin, which comes to a close on March 7, as well as another retreat in September in Camden, Maine, leading up to Points North’s 20th annual Camden International Film Festival. The retreats include feedback sessions, workshops and group discussions with veteran filmmakers and industry professionals.

Academy Award-winners Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, whose production company Little Monster Films teamed with Points North Institute to develop the program, are among the six mentors working with the fellows in Austin.

Director Margaret Brown (“Descendant”); director Kristi Jacobson (“A Place at the Table”), producer Andrea Meditch (“Man on Wire”) and director of the Sundance Film Festival, Eugene Hernandez, are also serving as Pretty Wild Fellowship mentors.

In Austin, the fellows presented their projects, which are in the development stage, and received feedback from mentors as well as peers.

In addition to the project presentations, the Austin retreat includes mentor led workshops and Q&A sessions.

“Jimmy and I are committed to lifting up fellow filmmakers, especially emerging voices,” says Vasarhelyi. “We were both mentored in really meaningful ways and given very important opportunities when we were coming up. So we have been looking for opportunities to create more funding for other filmmakers. So this has been a really special collaboration with Yeti.”

Yeti has produced more than 75 films focused on stories from the wild since launching Yeti Presents in 2015.

“Our team has been working to tell the stories of the incredible people and places that make up the Wild for nearly a decade in hopes of inspiring the next generation of outdoorsmen and women,” said Paulie Dery, Yeti CMO. “But we believe we have a responsibility to do more than just inspire. We want to enable a new generation of storytellers to share more stories of the outdoor communities we support.”

The Pretty Wild fellowship will conclude in October 2024. During the fellowship’s second creative retreat in Camden each fellow will participate in a four day editing residency.

“We are immensely proud and excited to partner with Yeti and Little Monster Films in supporting this inaugural cohort of Pretty Wild Fellows,” says Points North co-founder and program director Sean Flynn. “Each of these filmmakers is using deeply personal and cinematic storytelling to explore what it means to be wild, free and fully alive to the world around us.”

The 2024 Pretty Wild Fellowship Directors:

“The Arctic Women”
Director: Tasha Van Zandt
Producer: Lily Kaplan
Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm were the first women to overwinter solo in the Arctic’s remote Svalbard archipelago. As they return to this wild land, the pair bring along a team of citizen scientists to take their journey to the global stage.

“Baby Highlander”
Director/Producer: Mike Day
Highland cows live in the purple heather covered hills of Scotland, but the fragile relationship between the land, its creatures, and its human inhabitants must now reckon with both the challenges of the present and the legacies of the land’s past. The story follows a grandfather as he passes the mantle to his six-year-old granddaughter when she takes her first calf to a Highland Show to try and win a prize to help secure the herd’s future.

“Rare Bird”
Director/Producer: Juliana Schatz Preston
Eliana Rodriguez trains to become the first woman to skydive from the stratosphere.

Director: Emily Cohen Ibañez
Producer: Sara Dosa
From combat to competition, a woman from the Colombian Amazon jungle seeks glory on the world stage of river rafting. She aims to save her community’s ecological reserve through sport when limited resources challenge her team’s ability to compete.

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