Category Archives: #Sundance

Eight Indigenous-Made Films to See at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

This year, eight Indigenous-made films from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States will be premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The Native American and Indigenous Film Program has a global focus and through its work strengthens Indigenous cinema.

Filmmakers supported over the years include Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Muskogee), Taika Waititi (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui), Billy Luther (Diné/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo), Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq), Aurora Guerrero (Xicana), Sydney Freeland (Diné), Ciara Leina’ala Lacy (Kanaka Maoli), Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr. (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians), Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga), and Shaandiin Tome (Diné).

Following President and Founder Robert Redford’s original vision, Sundance Institute has remained committed to supporting Native American artists throughout the Institute’s history. This support has established a rich legacy of work and has supported more than 300 filmmakers through labs, grants, mentorships, public programs, and the platform of the Sundance Film Festival.



Top End Wedding / Australia (Director: Wayne Blair (Batjala Mununjali Wakkawakka), Screenwriters: Joshua Tyler, Miranda Tapsell (Larrakia Nation), Producers: Rosemary Blight, Kylie du Fresne, Kate Croser) — Lauren and Ned are engaged, they are in love, and they have just ten days to find Lauren’s mother who has gone AWOL somewhere in the remote far north of Australia, reunite her parents and pull off their dream wedding. Cast: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson, Ursula Yovich, Shari Sebbens. World Premiere


MERATA: How Mum Decolonised The Screen / New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: Hepi Mita (Ngati Pikiao/Ngai te Rangi), Producer: Chelsea Winstanley) — An intimate portrayal of pioneering filmmaker Merata Mita, told through the eyes of her children. Using hours of archive footage, some never before seen, her youngest child discovers the filmmaker he never knew and shares with the world the mother he lost. International Premiere

Words from a Bear / U.S.A. (Director: Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa), Producer: Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa) — A visual journey into the mind and soul of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Navarro Scott Momaday, relating each written line to his unique Native American experience representing ancestry, place and oral history. World Premiere



Fainting Spells / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga Band of Luiseño) — Told through recollections of youth, learning, lore, and departure, this is an imagined myth for the Indian Pipe Plant, used by the Ho-Chunk to revive those who have fainted. Premiere

Shinaab, Part II / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lyle Corbine Jr. (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Indians) — A look at Ojibwe ideas surrounding the death process, as a young man strives to honor his late father. U.S. Premiere


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FAST HORSE / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Alexandra Lazarowich (Cree) — The Blackfoot bareback horse-racing tradition returns in the astonishingly dangerous Indian Relay. Siksika horseman Allison Red Crow struggles with second-hand horses and a new jockey on his way to challenge the best riders in the Blackfoot Confederacy. U.S. Premiere

Throat Singing in Kangirsuk / Canada (Directors: Eva Kaukai (Inuit), Manon Chamberland (Inuit), Screenwriters: Emilie Baillargeon and Clark Ferguson) — Eva and Manon practice the art of throat singing in their native Arctic land, in the small village of Kangirsuk. World Premiere


Birds in the Earth / Finland (Director and screenwriter: Marja Helander, Sámi) — Examining the deeper questions of the ownership of Sámi land through the ballet performances of two young dancers.


Native Filmmaker Lab Fellows

Two Fellows participated in the Native Filmmakers Lab with their projects in May 2018 and will end their year-long Fellowship at the Festival with ongoing support, screenings, guided film discussions, and networking events. At the Lab, the Fellows worked with a cast and crew to practice shooting scenes from their short films under the expert creative mentorship of Program alumni, Creative Advisors and Program staff. This Fellowship encourages Native filmmakers to hone their storytelling and technical skills in a hands-on and supportive environment. Following the Lab, Fellows receive a year-round continuum of support.

Erica Tremblay

Erica (Seneca-Cayuga/Wyandotte Nations) is an award-winning filmmaker and digital strategist. Her projects have screened at more than 60 film festivals and her work has been featured on PBS, CNN and IFC. Erica was recently named a 40 Under 40 Native American and she is currently studying her Indigenous language on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve in Ontario.

Little Chief

The lives of a Native woman and nine-year-old boy intersect over the course of a school day on a reservation in Oklahoma.

MorningStar Angeline Wilson

MorningStar Angeline (Navajo, Blackfeet, Chippewa Cree, Latina) was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She began acting in theatre as a child and continued studying acting through college. She has been honored by the American Indian Film Festival and the New Mexico Film and Television Hall of Fame for her achievements in film. She is one of 2018 Native Lab recipients and her short film, Ahéhee’ Shizhé’é, completed production in August.

Ahéhee’ Shizhé’é (Thank you, Father)

A young woman struggles to come to terms with the legacy left to her after her father passes away from an unknown virus in a post-apocalyptic world. Through a series of dreams, she finds the strength to carry the traditions and medicine that was left to her.

Indigenous Film Fellows

Danis Goulet (Cree/Métis)

Award-winning filmmaker Danis Goulet’s films have screened at festivals around the world including Sundance, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Berlinale. She is an alumnus of the National Screen Institute and the TIFF Talent lab and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her feature script Night Raiders has received development support from the Sundance Institute and was selected for the International Financing Forum at TIFF.

Night Raiders

The near future. A military occupation controls disenfranchised cities in post-war North America. Children are property of the State. Niska, a Cree mother, is on the run with her daughter Waseece to keep her from being sent to the State’s education camps, known as the Academies. When they are forced to leave their home, Niska makes the painstaking decision to send Waseece to Academies, only to later realize she has made a terrible mistake. Niska finds an underground band of Cree vigilantes who raid the Academies at night. She joins the raiders, determined to find and get her daughter back.

Miciana Hutcherson (Tlingit)

Miciana Hutcherson, whose Tlingit name is Aak’w Tu Shaa, is Raven Dog Salmon, with family from Angoon, Alaska. She was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska where she was a member of the All Nations Children Dance Group and graduated from Juneau Douglas High School. Miciana is a graduate of Haskell Indian Nations University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Indigenous and American Indian Studies. Currently, she’s pursuing a second degree in Film and Media Studies from Arizona State University. She has interned with various media companies and organizations ranging from the Native American Journalists Association, to the BET Awards with Jessie Collins Entertainment, to the Sundance Institute. She also served as Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska 2016-2017 Executive Council Emerging Leader where she attended various tribal leadership conferences and the peaceful protests at Standing Rock.

Marked By Milestones

In this life a woman’s biggest challenges are the love she chooses to accept, the tough love her mother offers, and the lack of love a father leaves behind. Mia will have to face them all to find herself.

Art of Nonfiction Fellow

The Art of Nonfiction Fellowship supports artists with a distinct voice and vision and provides them with an unrestricted grant and year-long fellowship track tailored to their creative aspirations and challenges. Art of Nonfiction is made possible by funding support from Cinereach. Generous additional support is provided by Genuine Article Pictures and Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman.

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga Band of Luiseño)

Sky Hopinka was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, Portland, Oregon, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is currently based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. In Portland he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture, and the play between the known and the unknowable. His work has played at various festivals including ImagineNATIVE Media + Arts Festival, Images, Wavelengths, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Sundance, Antimatter, Chicago Underground Film Festival, FLEXfest, and Projections. His work was a part of the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial and the 2017 Whitney Biennial. He is currently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Talent Forum

For the first time, this year’s Festival will include a Forum for exciting talent from the Institute’s signature artist development Labs and programs to present new work to industry attendees, alongside a special artist-only program of keynotes, screenings, gatherings, and seminars. From Tuesday, January 29, through Thursday, January 31, the Sundance Institute Talent Forum will feature some of the most promising storytellers from across the Institute’s various disciplines ready for the next step with their careers or projects. This new, highly curated, invitation-only program aims to create a signature experience for artists and industry alike.

Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr., Writer/Director (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. is a filmmaker whose short film Shinaab played at the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and AFI Fest. His follow-up short, Shinaab: Part II, premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and will screen at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. He was supported at the 2018 Sundance Institute Screenwriters and Directors Labs and has been awarded grants and fellowships from Cinereach, the McKnight Foundation and the Time Warner Foundation.

Blake Pickens, Producer (Chickasaw)

Blake Pickens is an Emmy Award-winning Chickasaw filmmaker. Pickens began his career writing satire for National Lampoon. He was selected for the Sundance Institute Indigenous Producers Fellowship and the Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellowship. His film The Land premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically by IFC Films. His commercials have won multiple Grands Prix at Cannes Lions, and he also won an MTV VMA for his work on the music video for John Legend’s “Surefire.”

Merata Mita Fellowship

On Monday, January 28, Sundance Institute will announce the recipient of an annual fellowship named in honor of the late Māori filmmaker Merata Mita, New Zealand’s first Indigenous female filmmaker. In addition to being a global advocate for Indigenous voices, Merata was a trusted creative advisor and artistic director at the Native Lab, and a dear friend to the Institute. Each year Sundance Institute identifies a Native or Indigenous filmmaker from a global pool of nominees to award a cash grant and provide a year-long continuum of support with activities including a trip to the Sundance Film Festival, access to strategic and creative services offered by Sundance Institute artist programs, and mentorship opportunities. The Merata Mita Fellowship is supported by the Consulate General of Canada, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Anonymous, Fenton Bailey and Billy Luther, and Sarah Luther.

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Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Pahokee, photo by Patrick Bresnan


For the 2019 Festival, slated to run January 24th through February 3rd, 2019, 112 feature-length films were selected from a record high of 14,259 submissions including 4,018 feature-length films, representing 33 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers. Of the feature film submissions, 1,767 were from the U.S. and 2,251 were international; 31% were directed by one or more women; 38% were directed by one or more filmmaker of color; 11% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA. 24 films are supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or residency Labs. In addition, 102 of the Festival’s feature films, or 91% of the lineup, will be world premieres.

The Sundance Film Festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film, held each January in and around Park City, Utah. Presenting dramatic and documentary feature-length films from emerging and established artists, innovative short films, filmmaker forums and panels, live music performances, cutting-edge media installations, and engaging community programs, the Festival is known for bringing together the most original storytellers of our time.

Robert Redford, pictured below, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, recently said this about storytellers,

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“Society relies on storytellers.

The choices they make, and the risks they take, define our collective experience.

This year’s Festival is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment.

In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art; culture reaps the reward.”



Supported by the non-profit Sundance Institute, the Sundance Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most ground-breaking films of the past two decades, including sex, lies, and videotape, Maria Full of Grace, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Trouble the Water, and Central Station and, through its New Frontier initiative, has brought the cinematic works of media artists including Isaac Julian, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Matthew Barney.

In 2018, the Festival drew 124,900 attendees from 49 U.S. states and 26 other countries, generated $191.6 million in economic activity for the state of Utah and supported 3,323 local jobs.

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 23 – February 2, 2020.

Stay tuned for this year’s program! Until then….

I’ll see you at the movies!

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Kimberly Steward up for Oscar gold with ‘Manchester’

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Kenya Vaughn

When Kimberly Steward was at home in St. Louis, Missouri making media rounds for the film “Manchester by the Sea” just ahead of its nationwide theatrical release this past October, she didn’t want to entertain the Oscar buzz surrounding the film.

The idea of it seemed too farfetched – too much of a fairytale ending for the first-time feature film producer.

“If anything happens with any kind of awards, I will definitely be giving Oprah a shout out,” Steward said.

“Manchester by the Sea” was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award making Steward the second African American woman producer to have a film in the running for the most coveted award of the film season. Oprah Winfrey is the other.

“What she has done as a filmmaker and a producer has opened doors for me and so many others,” Steward said of Winfrey. “If that actually happens, I will actually bow and curtsey to her because she paved the way.”

“This is exciting and surreal,” Steward told The Huffington Post’s Zahara Hill. “I’m just beyond belief.”

With a diverse mix of nominees both in front of and behind the scenes, Steward has the chance to strike Oscar gold with her debut as producer/financier thanks to “Manchester.”

“As an African American woman, it’s important to have that representation off screen too,” Steward said of her role in bringing the film to mass audiences.

Steward and her K. Period Media (which she operates with producing partner Lauren Beck) put forth the necessary financing for the Kenneth Lonegran feature to see the light of day.

“We had nobody except K Period,” Matt Damon said during a “Produced By” panel. A fellow producer along with Steward, the concept of the film was Damon’s idea – and he was originally set to star in the drama. Scheduling conflicts meant that Casey Affleck would assume the role of Lee Chandler, a reclusive New England janitor forced to confront his painful past and mend broken familial ties.

The film – and Affleck’s performance in particular – was praised by critics from its premiere at Sundance last winter.

While at Sundance, Amazon paid $10 million for the film’s distribution rights. Manchester” was believed to be a shoe-in for several honors for the next awards season.

First came the Golden Globes – where “Manchester” earned a total of five nominations. Casey Affleck took home “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.” Steward was the first person Affleck reached out to embrace when his name was announced at last month’s ceremony.

Hats off to Kimberly Steward.

(Source: St. Louis American)

Marjorie Prime Wins Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize at 2017 Sundance Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Winners of Commissioning Grant, Episodic Storytelling Grant and Lab Fellowship Revealed

Park City, Utah — At a reception during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival today, the beneficiaries of $60,000 in grants from Sundance Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation were revealed. Doron Weber, the Vice President of Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, announced the winners: Michael Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime won the Feature Film Prize; Adam Benic’s Levittown (Sundance Institute | Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Episodic Storytelling Grant); Darcy Brislin and Dyana Winkler’s Bell (Sundance Institute | Sloan Lab Fellowship); and Jamie Dawson and Howard Gertler’s Untitled Smallpox Eradication Project (Sundance Institute | Sloan Commissioning Grant).

The reception was preceded by an all-female panel on women in science and their onscreen portrayals (or lack thereof), with discussion of half a dozen films about women in science that were supported and championed by Sloan, including the hit film Hidden Figures. These activities are part of the Sundance Institute Science-In-Film Initiative, which is made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute (Photo via

“Support for these artists and their projects is more timely than ever,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, “Telling nuanced, human stories about science and technology is the most effective way to drive understanding of the forces that play such a major role in shaping our world today.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Sundance for the 14th year in a row and award the 2017 Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance to Michael Almereyda’s Marjorie


Doron Weber, Vice President at the Sloan Foundation (Photo via

Prime,” said Doron Weber,  Vice President at the Sloan Foundation. “With cool intelligence, wit and poignancy — allied to a deft directorial hand and a stellar cast — Almereyda explores the emotional landscape of artificial intelligence and dramatizes the emerging impact of intelligent machines on our most intimate human relationships. Sloan is also delighted to award three new screenwriting grants at Sundance focusing on scientists and inventors who helped shape the modern world as part of our “non-profit movie studio for science ” and a national development pipeline which has resulted in 20 feature films to date.”


Marjorie Prime: Winner of Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

Marjorie Prime has been awarded the 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and will receive a $20,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The Prize is selected by a jury of film and science professionals and presented to outstanding feature films focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character.

Marjorie Prime / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Almereyda) — In the near future—a time of artificial intelligence—86-year-old Marjorie has a handsome new companion who looks like her deceased husband and is programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. What would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance? Cast: Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, Lois Smith, Tim Robbins.

The jury presented the award to the film for its “imaginative and nuanced depiction of the evolving relationship between humans and technology, and its moving dramatization of how intelligent machines can challenge our notions of identity, memory and mortality”

As previously announced, this year’s Alfred P. Sloan jury members are: Heather Berlin, Tracy Drain, Nell Greenfieldboyce, Nicole Perlman and Jennifer Phang.

Previous Alfred P. Sloan Prize Winners include: Ciro Guerra, Embrace of the Serpent (2015); Mike Cahill, I Origins (2014); Andrew Bujalski, Computer Chess (2013); Jake Schreier and Christopher Ford, Robot & Frank (2012); Musa Syeed, Valley of Saints (2012); Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, Another Earth (2011); Diane Bell, Obselidia (2010); Max Mayer, Adam (2009); Alex Rivera, Sleep Dealer (2008); Shi-Zheng Chen, Dark Matter (2007); Andrucha Waddington and Elena Soarez, House of Sand (2006); Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man (2005); Shane Carruth, Primer (2004) and Marc Decena, Dopamine (2003). Several past winners have also been awarded Jury Awards at the Festival, including the Grand Jury Prize for Primer, the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Sleep Dealer and the Excellence in Cinematography Award for Obselidia.

To support the development of screenplays with science or technology, Sundance Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provide three different opportunities for screenwriters through a Commissioning Grant, a Lab Fellowship and an Episodic Storytelling Grant. All provide a cash award to support further development of a screenplay and to retain science advisors, along with overall creative and strategic feedback throughout development.

Sundance Institute / Sloan Commissioning Grant

Jamie Dawson and Howard Gertler will receive a $12,500 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Previous winner’s include Alex Rivera’s La Vida Robot and Robert Edwards’s American Prometheus.

Untitled Smallpox Eradication Project (U.S.A.) / Jamie Dawson (Writer) and Howard Gertler (Producer)
In 1965, the World Health Organization orders a massive operation to eradicate the deadly smallpox virus from the human population.  A ragtag band of very different personalities — from ashram hippies to tenacious scientists to tactical bureaucrats — clash and collaborate as they fight to pull off the impossible.

Jamie Dawson is a New York native and graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Film Program.  He has sold or optioned work to companies such as BCDF Pictures, Manage-ment/Dan Halsted, Formation Entertainment, and Permut Presentations.  Projects in development include: The Rabbit Garden, his Black List script about controversial author Jerzy Kosinski (Being There) with producer David Permut and director Janusz Kaminski; and Swan Song, a television series based on the award-winning, cult classic novel by Robert McCammon (Boy’s Life).

Oscar-nominated producer Howard Gertler’s credits include David France’s How to Survive a Plague, which premiered in competition at Sundance 2012 and was released by IFC Films/Sundance Selects; in addition to the Academy Award nomination, the film collected New York Film Critics’ Circle, Peabody, IFP Gotham, IDA and GLAAD Media Awards. He’s both an IFP/Gotham and Film Independent Spirit Award winner, the latter of which he won for producing John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus, which premiered in the official selection in Cannes and was released worldwide. His upcoming films include John Cameron Mitchell’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties, produced with See-Saw Films, Film4, Ingenious and Screen Yorkshire, to be released by A24 and Studiocanal UK in 2017.


Sundance Institute / Sloan Lab Fellowship

Darcy Brislin and Dyana Winkler will receive a $15,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Previous winners include Logan Kibbens’s Operator, Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter, and Rob Meyer’s A Birder’s Guide to Everything.

Bell (U.S.A.) / Darcy Brislin (Co-Writer) and Dyana Winkler (Co-Writer)
At a pivotal point in history, hearing society began a golden age of communication with the advent of the telephone, while deaf society plummeted into a dark age with the eradication of sign language and spread of eugenics. At the helm of both trajectories stands a single man—Alexander Graham Bell. This project was the recipient of the 2016 Sundance Sloan Commissioning Grant.

A Boston native, Darcy Brislin studied Art History and French at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She received an MFA in screenwriting and directing from EICAR, the International Film School of Paris, where she met co-writer Dyana Winkler. Currently based in Los Angeles, Brislin has written screenplays with Sundance award-winning director Ondi Timoner and has a feature film in development entitled Crown Chasers, with Maria Bello attached to produce.

Dyana Winkler is a writer, director, producer based in Brooklyn. Her most recent film, a feature-length documentary entitled United Skates, is currently in post production and has received awards from the Sundance Institute, New York State Council For the Arts, Fledgling Foundation, Film Independent, Chicken & Egg, IFP, and many more. Winkler met her writing partner, Darcy Brislin, in Paris, France, while completing their MFAs in screenwriting and directing, and discovered their shared passion for casting new light on historical figures. They went on to write their first screenplay Turing, and have teamed up for a second time with Bell, which was the recipient of the 2016 Sundance Sloan Commissioning Grant.

Sundance Institute / Sloan Episodic Storytelling Grant: Levittown

Adam Benic will receive a $12,500 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Levittown (U.S.A.) / Adam Benic (Writer, Creator)
A one-hour drama series about visionary WWII veteran, Lieutenant William Levitt, who on his 40th birthday broke ground on the largest private construction project in American history. Alongside his attorney father and architect brother, Will fights against an antiquated industry to fill the massive postwar housing need, thus building the world’s first mass-produced suburb, Levittown, Long Island.

Adam Benic is a Writers’ Assistant on TNT’s Animal Kingdom, and formerly a Showrunner’s Assistant on Hulu’s Shut Eye, CBS’s Extant, and a graduate of AFI’s MFA Screenwriting program. Adam hails from Long Island, New York where he grew up in a Levitt home.


The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Boyhood, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Twenty Feet from Stardom, Life Itself, The Cove, The End of the Tour, Blackfish, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Super Size Me, Dope, Little Miss Sunshine, sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Precious and Napoleon Dynamite. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2017 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire®, and Canada Goose; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, AT&T, DIRECTV, Omnicom, Stella Artois® and YouTube; Sustaining Sponsors – American Airlines, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Creators League Studio, Daydream, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, GEICO, The Hollywood Reporter, IMDb, Jaunt, Kickstarter, Oculus and the University of Utah Health. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Sponsor seal at their venues at the Festival.



Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The New York based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology, and economic performance. Sloan’s program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience.

Sloan’s Film Program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and compelling stories about scientists, science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. Over the past 15 years, Sloan has partnered with some of the top film schools in the country—including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA and USC—and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production, along with an annual best-of-the-best Student Grand Jury Prize administered by the Tribeca Film Institute. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs with the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, the San Francisco Film Society, the Black List, and Film Independent’s Producing Lab and Fast Track program and has helped develop such film projects as Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Mathew Brown’s The Man Who Knew Infinity, Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter, Rob Meyer’s A Birder’s Guide to Everything, Musa Syeed’s Valley of Saints, and Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess.

The Foundation also has an active theater program and commissions about twenty science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club, as well as supporting select productions across the country. Recent grants have supported Nick Payne’s Incognito, Frank Basloe’s Please Continue, Deborah Zoe Laufer’s Informed Consent, Lucas Hnath’s Isaac’s Eye, and Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51, recently on London’s West End.

The Foundation’s book program includes early stage support for Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, now a major motion picture that was awarded the San Francisco Film Society Sloan Science in Cinema Prize in 2016.

(Source: Press release courtesy of Sundance Media Relations)

*(Featured photo via





Horizon Awards Announced in Park City during Sundance Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson



The Horizon Award co-founders, Elwes, Howell, and Vachon, have partnered with new and returning sponsors: The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, Sundance Institute, Women In Film (WIF) Los Angeles, The Black List, CreativeFuture, The Creative Mind Group, ScreenEngine, MPRM, Twitter, MPAA, WME, and ShivHans Pictures  for the 3rd Annual Awards in Park City.

PARK CITY, UTAH (January 23, 2017) – The Horizon Award co-founders (Cassian Elwes, Lynette Howell Taylor, and Christine Vachon) proudly announced the winners of the 3rd Annual Horizon Awards on last night, January 22, 2017, at the WME Lounge in Park City, Utah during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.  The six directors who judged the final 53 films to select the 2 winners were: Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Twilight), Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry, Carrie), Jamie Babbit (But I’m a Cheerleader, Addicted to Fresno), Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body, Æon Flux), Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned, Queen Sugar), and Vicky Jensen (Shrek, Shark Tale).  Brittany “B Monét” Fennell and Andy Villanueva were the two (2) female directors, who submitted their self-directed short film (two minutes or less) through the website (, and were awarded their cash prize during this event.  As part of their award, The Horizon Award made it possible for both Ms. Fennell & Ms. Villanueva to experience an all-expense paid mentorship to the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, in addition to a cash prize.

Pictured above: top left to right, Christine Vachon (Co-Founder), Lynette Howell Taylor (Co-Founder), Cassian Elwes (Co-Founder), and Shivani Rawat; bottom left to right, Brittany “B Monet” Fennell (Award Winner), Sharon Lawrence (Actress), Dee Rees (Director), Andy Villanueva (Award Winner), Carey Mulligan (Actress), and Jack Black (Actor). (Photo credit: Dan Campbell/Horizon Award))

Among the presenters were Jack Black (The Polka King, Kung Fu Panda), Carey Mulligan (Mudbound, Suffragette), Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue, Shameless), and Dee Rees (Director of Mudbound, Pariah).

We were also delighted to announce that CEO, Shivani Rawat and ShivHans Pictures generously donated $25,000 to the Horizon Award winners for continuing education and sponsorship on film projects.  ShivHans Pictures was one of the producers of The Polka King that premiered at Sundance with directors: Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky with cast: Jack Black, Jason Schwarzman, Jenny Slate, and others.

“Being a woman in a largely male-dominated field presents challenges, one of which is balancing the serious gender and diversity gap within the filmmaking community.  As a young, Indian-American female producer myself this is a personal challenge, which is why ShivHans Pictures is proud to support this year’s women filmmakers as a patron of the Horizon Award.” —Shivani Rawat

The 3rd Annual Horizon Award partnered with new and returning sponsors: The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, Sundance Institute, Women In Film (WIF) Los Angeles, The Black List, CreativeFuture, The Creative Mind Group, ScreenEngine, MPRM, Twitter, MPAA, WME, and ShivHans Pictures.

The Horizon Award Co-Founders have been in Park City to represent each of their films at the Sundance Film Festival.  Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, and Killer Films are with their four films: Beatriz at Dinner, Lemon, Mercy, and Where is Kyra.  Cassian Elwes and Elevated is with Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees and starring Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, and Garrett Hedlund.  Following an amazing 2016 Sundance Film Festival with her film, Captain Fantastic, Lynette Howell Taylor is currently working on the HBO mini-series, American Lion, with Sean Penn as well as with Brie Larson on her directorial debut, Unicorn Store.  Lynette has snuck away from post-production to support The Horizon Award at Sundance 2017.


Brittany “B Monét” Fennell is a graduate of Spelman College.  She studied writing and directing at New York University and was granted the Graduate Film Department Fellowship.  She associate produced a short film “Strings Attached” that premiered at Cannes Court Metrage.  Recently, shot a feature length documentary called Little Sallie Walker with Stephanie Person, the first African-American professional skateboarder.  She also worked at Beyoncé’s production company Parkwood Entertainment.  Last year she completed a short documentary #RiseUpOctober with Dr. Cornel West, about the #BlackLivesMatter movement.  Currently, she is developing her short film “Q.U.E.E.N.” into a feature and working on a short film for the Bureau of Creative Works that will be featured on VHX in 2017.  This year she was named a directing fellow for Film Independent’s fellowship Project Involve.

Andy Villanueva is a Mexican immigrant, multi-disciplinary artist and co-founder of Project Slut.  She has been fighting for young women’s rights since she was 15.  She is currently double majoring at York University and studying Human Rights & Equity Studies & Cinema.


Founded by acclaimed independent film producers Cassian Elwes (Dallas Buyers Club), Lynette Howell Taylor (Captain Fantastic), and Christine Vachon (Carol), The Horizon Award make it possible for two young women to experience an all-expense paid mentorship to the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, in addition to a cash prize.  Elwes, Howell, and Vachon have partnered with new and returning sponsors: The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, Sundance Institute, Women In Film (WIF) Los Angeles, The Black List, CreativeFuture, The Creative Mind Group, ScreenEngine, MPRM, Twitter, MPAA, WME, and ShivHans Pictures in this effort.


screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-11-54-03-amThe Horizon Award is an annual competitive accolade, with a cash prize, established to support emerging female directors and address the significant disparity between the numbers of female-to-male directors, a hot topic that is the subject of an ACLU inquiry into management and labor hiring practices in Hollywood.  The American film and television industry is in need of significant change to better represent the diversity of this country.  At a time when women make up 50.8% of the U.S. population, just 7.5% of the 100 top-grossing films from 2015 were made by female directors.  One of the most glaring statistics:  approximately 50% of people in film school are women, 25% of films in competition at Sundance Film Festival are directed by women, yet only 2% of the top-grossing films in 2014 were directed by women.  The Horizon Award wants to be part of the change.


The Horizon Award team is incredibly grateful for the continued support of The Adrienne Shelly Foundation.  This year, the Adrienne Shelly Foundation is returning with a $5,000 Film Grant to be awarded in partnership with The Horizon Award at The Sundance Film Festival in January 2017.  Named in honor of actress/filmmaker, Adrienne Shelly, the grant supports women filmmakers to move forward in their careers.  Commenting on the grant, Founder and Executive Director, Andy Ostry said: “Our grants support women filmmakers.  Yet just 6% of the 250 top grossing films last year were directed by women.  That’s a shameful statistic, which is why our mission is so critical.”

*Featured photo: left to right, Cassian Elwes (Horizon Award Co-Founder, Carey Mulligan (Actress), and Andy Villanueva (Award Winner).(Photo credit: Dan Campbell/Horizon Award)

(Source: Melanie Márquez, Senior Publicist at M4PR )

Sundance Institute and The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation Collaborate to Support Diverse Independent Filmmakers

Posted by Larry Gleeson


Foundation Backs Institute’s Annual Screenwriters Intensive, Year-Round Diversity Work


Park City, UT — Sundance Institute and The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation will collaborate to support diverse independent artists, they announced today at a reception at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. As part of a two-year commitment, the Foundation will support the Institute’s Screenwriters Intensive and year-round work with diverse independent filmmakers and artists.

The Screenwriters Intensive, part of the Institute’s Feature Film Program, provides the opportunity for 10 emerging screenwriters from underrepresented communities to hone their craft in a two-day workshop focused deeply on the creative process. It works in partnership with the Institute’s Diversity Initiative, which emphasizes diversity as a longstanding and core value of all Institute programs. The Initiative encompasses efforts to reach new communities of storytellers and artists across regions, genres, ethnicities, genders and orientations.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute (Photo via

“Sundance is proud to work with storytellers from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, both at the Festival and in our artist development programs,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute. “We are so grateful for the generous support of The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation. Together, we will build momentum and awareness about the need to create a film and media landscape that reflects the full richness and diversity of our culture.”


Jada Pinkett Smith

“We are honored and energized to collaborate with Sundance Institute to cultivate stories and storytellers reflective of the world at large, and we view today as the beginning of a productive, purposeful and powerful alignment with an enduring institution,” said Jada Pinkett Smith.

For over two decades, The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation has generously supported individuals and organizations dedicated to advancement in the areas of education, health, sustainability and arts. The Foundation’s new initiative, Careers in Entertainment (CIE), introduces youth to careers in the media and entertainment industry through mentorship and internship opportunities. CIE enables students to learn from the industry’s most creative and successful leaders across television, film and music.

The Institute’s support for diverse artists extends throughout its more than 35-year history. Artists supported by the Institute include Ava DuVernay, Robert Rodriguez, Ryan Coogler, Lee Daniels, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Dee Rees. Current programs include Fellowships for Latino and Asian-American artists. The Institute’s formalized Diversity Initiative was created with founding support from the Time Warner Foundation.

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, The Invisible War, The Square, Dirty Wars, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation
Dedicated to the betterment of the world around us, The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation assists individuals, charities, and organizations in the areas of education, health and sustainability.  Learn more about The Will & Jada Smith Foundation and the Careers in Entertainment initiative on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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(Source: Sundance Press Office)

Annapurna launches marketing, distribution operation

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Jeremy Kay

The timely development comes as industry sources predict Megan Ellison’s team is in Sundance looking to make a statement buy as the festival wraps up its first weekend.

The full-service distribution and marketing operation will kick off with the inaugural release of Kathryn Bigelow’s Untitled Detroit Project in theatres on August 4.

Marc Weinstock, who recently joined the company as president, will oversee the new division alongside president of marketing David Kaminow and president of distribution Erik Lomis.

The addition of a deep-pocketed buyer adds to speculation over who will make the big acquisition plays in Park City.

Prior to the festival there was talk that YouTube Red, Facebook and Apple could be the ones to watch besides Netflix and Amazon Studios. While those first three companies are making inroads into feature content and have the money to step up, the focus now turns to Annapurna.

Marc Weinstock (Photo via

“Kathryn’s Untitled Detroit Project is exemplary of the type of films we will be distributing,” said Weinstock. “I couldn’t be more confident in the team we are establishing to distribute and market the film in a way that is as creative and masterful as her film is.”


Bigelow’s film takes place against the backdrop of Detroit’s 1967 riots. Bigelow is producing with Ellison and Matthew Budman. Mark Boal, who wrote the script, and Colin Wilson are also producers with Greg Shapiro serving as executive producer.

The release date will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the riots and stars an ensemble cast that includes John Boyega, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor and Jeremy Strong.

Megan Ellison, producer and founder of Annapurna Pictures (Photo via

“Kathryn took a chance on me six years ago and I’m honored that she has put her faith in me and my team once again,” said Ellison, referring to Zero Dark Thirty. “I could not be more excited to be launching this new part of our company with such a groundbreaking filmmaker, tremendous collaborator, and dear friend.”

Bigelow added: “Megan has been such a huge supporter of filmmakers as a producer and the fact that she is now offering a full-fledged distribution and marketing home run by such innovative and creative executives is great news to all of us. I am thrilled to be working with them.”

Pictured above, Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film, Untitled Detroit Project, is slated to be Annapurna Pictures’ inaugural combined marketing and distribution operation. (Photo via The  AV Club)