Tribeca Festival’s Ben Thompson awarded Honorary Fellowship

Rt Hon Lord Thomas of Cwmgïedd, Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, presenting Ben Thompson as Honorary Fellow

Rt Hon Lord Thomas of Cwmgïedd, Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, presenting Ben Thompson as Honorary Fellow

18 July 2023

Ben Thompson, filmmaker and Vice President of Shorts Programming at Tribeca Festival in New York, has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Aberystwyth University.

An Aberystwyth alumnus, he graduated from the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, before moving to New York and joining the Tribeca Festival.

Passionate about short form storytelling and introducing short films to new audiences, he has watched over 11,000 short films for Tribeca alone.

An avid filmmaker himself, Ben Thompson has also directed and produced dozens of short films and documentaries, including the multi-award winning The Yellow Balloon.

Ben Thompson was presented as Honorary Fellow by Dr Greg Bevan, Senior Lecturer in Film and Media Practice in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University, on Tuesday 18 July 2023.

The full conferral presentation is available below.

Presentation of Ben Thompson by Dr Greg Bevan:

Canghellor, Dirprwy Is-Ganghellor, darpar raddedigion, gyfeillion.  Pleser o’r mwyaf yw cyflwyno Ben Thompson yn Gymrawd Prifysgol Aberystwyth.

Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor, prospective graduates, and supporters.  It is an honour and a privilege to present Ben Thompson as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Ben graduated from Aberystwyth in 2002 with a Joint Honours degree in Film & Television Studies with Drama and Theatre. After a stint in London, he moved to the US and settled in New York. Soon after arriving, he joined the team at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival, one of the world’s top tier festivals – rising up the ranks to become their Short Film Programmer, and recently to be Tribeca’s Vice President of Shorts Programming. When he isn’t programming short films, he’s making them. Including the multi-award winningYellow Balloon, which was selected as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

Ben has always been interested in short form storytelling and, while at Tribeca, discovered a passion for sharing short films with new audiences. He also spent several years working in the United Arab Emirates at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, and has acted as a programming consultant for many other festivals. He is fascinated by new voices and stories from different cultures and languages, and regularly travels to search out new stories from around the world. He’s watched over 11,000 short films for Tribeca alone!

Thanks to Ben’s generosity, and the support of his colleagues at Tribeca, since 2016 the Department of Theatre, Film & Television Studies, has been extremely fortunate to be able to send groups of students out to New York to experience the festival. They’ve attended world premieres and masterclasses with some people whose names may be familiar to some of you: Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, Pharrell Williams – the list goes on. Jane Fonda, Bradley Cooper, Jamie Foxx, Ewan McGregor, Whoopi Goldberg - the list really does go on and on. These are genuinely inspirational and transformative experiences for our students. But more important than the glitz of the red carpet events, is the time Ben makes for us – his Aber contingent – while we are there.

He’s always curious about what the students are working on and what projects they’ve got coming up next. He’s shared his expertise with students here in Aber on numerous occasions, giving tips and insights into film festival submissions and strategies. At one masterclass, we learnt that to maximise your chances of getting your film accepted to a major festival, you should make a 10-minute comedy documentary…for children.

Since our very first meeting, his passion for giving a platform to Welsh voices and stories was clear. And we were all delighted when Heart Valley, a film shot locally in Ceredigion, won the short documentary category at Tribeca last year. We were even more delighted to be able to welcome Ben and the film’s director back to Aberystwyth for a special event, here at the Arts Centre, to celebrate Welsh films and filmmakers at Tribeca.

Ben, we are extremely proud of your achievements and immensely grateful for your generosity and friendship. We look forward, as a department, to continuing our very special relationship with you into the future.

Canghellor, mae’n bleser gen i gyflwyno Ben Thompson i chi yn Gymrawd.

Chancellor, it is my absolute pleasure to present Ben Thompson to you as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Ben Thompson was presented as Honorary Fellow by Dr Greg Bevan, Senior Lecturer in Film and Media Practice in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

Aberystwyth University Honours 2023

Each year, Aberystwyth University confers Honorary Awards on a small number of distinguished individuals in recognition of their outstanding achievement and contribution.

Aberystwyth University awards celebrate individuals who have roots in, or connections to, the region and have either: made an exceptional and outstanding contribution to the development of the University over a prolonged period; gained recognition for national or international excellence in an academic area relevant to the University; or made a significant contribution to the cultural, academic, educational, professional or economic arena.

The 2023 Honorary Fellows are (in order of presentation):

  • Helen Prosser, Director of Teaching and Learning at the National Centre for Learning Welsh
  • Tina Evans, ‘Human on Wheels’ inspirational blogger and motivational speaker, and television presenter
  • Ben Thompson, Short Film Programmer at Tribeca Festival in New York
  • Ann Griffith, Leader of Wales and the World at the 2022 National Eisteddfod
  • Professor Dato' Dr Rahmat Mohamad, Professor of Law at MARA Technological University in Malaysia
  • Kate O’Sullivan, veterinary surgeon for Mill Referrals, Director of Ystwyth Vets and British Small Animal Veterinary Association volunteer
  • Phil Thomas, veterinary surgeon, Director of Ystwyth Vets and Director of Iechyd Da
  • Ian Gwyn Hughes, Head of Public Relations at the Football Association of Wales and former BBC Wales football correspondent.