Sundance Film Fest 2008: Finalists of Sundance/NKH Filmmakers Awards

Nov 6, 2008–Sundance Institute and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) today announced the twelve finalists for the 2009 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards. In its thirteenth year, this partnership presents an annual cash award to support new artists in international cinema and is presented to emerging film directors from four global regions in support of their next projects. One recipient each from Europe, Latin America, the United States, and Japan will be selected by members of an international jury. Winners will be announced on January 22, 2009 at the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award reception at the Sundance Film Festival. Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the Sundance Film Festival will take place from January 15-25, 2009 in and around Park City, Utah.

The winning director from each region will receive a $10,000 award and a guarantee from NHK, Japan’s largest broadcaster and one of the top five broadcasters in the world, to purchase the Japanese television broadcast rights upon completion of their project. Additionally, each award recipient will receive ongoing support from Sundance Institute and will work closely with the award recipients throughout the year, providing ongoing mentorship and assistance in seeking opportunities to finance and distribute their projects.

“We are tremendously inspired by this year's finalists, their projects demonstrate a wide range of stories told with humor, artfulness and keen insight.” said Alesia Weston, Associate Director of the Sundance Feature Film Program, International. ¬ìThe Sundance/NHK Award represents our commitment to providing financial support to international filmmakers with original stories to tell. We're thrilled by the singular, authentic voices of this year's finalists and look forward to inviting the four winners to the 2009 Sundance Film Festival,¬ì added Michelle Satter, Director, Sundance Institute Feature Film Program.

Past recipients of the Sundance/NHK Filmmakers award include: Alex Rivera, THE SLEEP DEALER (USA); Miranda July, ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (USA); Andrucha Waddington, THE HOUSE OF SAND (Brazil); Lucrecia Martel, LA CIENAGA (Argentina); Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, WHISKY (Uruguay); Walter Salles, CENTRAL STATION (Brazil); Gy??rgy P?°lfi, TAXIDERMIA (Hungary); Fernando Eimbcke with LAKE TAHOE (Mexico);and Kanji Nakajima with CLONE RETURNS THE HOMELAND (Japan). The 2008 recipients were: Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, HUACHO from Chile; Braden King, HERE from the United States; Aiko Nagatsu, APOPTOSIS from Japan; and Radu Jude, THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD from Romania.

The twelve finalists for the 2009 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards are:


Celia Gal?°n Julve / ROSITA GUZM?ÅN IS ALIVE (Spain) ¬ñ When dangerous fugitive Rosita Guzm?°n disappears into the Mexican desert, criminologist Garcia Navarro, convinced that she is a product of an unjust system, becomes obsessed with finding and unraveling the truth about her.

Celia Gal?°n Julve was born in Barcelona in 1977. She received an MA in Animation Direction from the Royal College of Art in London in 2002. Her graduation film, HISTORIA DEL DESIERTO (STORY OF THE DESERT), has been screened at over one hundred festivals, including the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and won several international awards, including Best Short Film at the IFP Los Angeles Film Festival and the Cinefondation's Second Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2004, Julve was invited as an Artist in Residence in Berlin (DAAD) and later that year, wrote and directed the short film ONE MINUTE PAST MIDNIGHT which went on to claim Best Short Film at the Chicago International Film Festival. Her first feature film, ROSITA GUZMAN IS ALIVE was written while Julve was an artist in residence at Cannes Film Festival's Cinefondation in Paris in 2005.

Lucile Hadzihalilovic/EVOLUTION (France) – A group of young boys who are isolated from the world act as guinea pigs in a series of bizarre medical procedures intended to trigger a reverse evolutionary step. EVOLUTION depicts the attempts of one young, unruly test subject as he seeks to escape experimentation and recall his clouded past.

Lucile Hadzihalilovic studied cinema at La F?©mis, the French state film school. In 1990, she founded the production company, Les Cin?©mas de la Zone with Gaspar No?©, through which she produced No?©¬ís films CARNE and I STAND ALONE, as well as her own short films. In 1996, she produced and directed the short film MIMI, which was shown at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, Cannes and Toronto. Hadzihalilovic¬ís first feature INNOCENCE (2004) won numerous awards, including Best First Film at San Sebastian Film Festival, and Best Film and Best Photography at Stockholm Film Festival.

Marco Van Geffen/AMONG US (Netherlands) – Cross-cultural misunderstandings and miscommunications compound when a Polish au pair goes to work for a Dutch family. Structured in a puzzle-like narrative, AMONG US depicts the young woman's tenure there from various points of view, and the characters failure to connect.

Marco Van Geffen was born in The Hague, the Netherlands. He started writing screenplays after studying Visual Arts at the ABK Art School in Arnhem. In addition to his Dutch box-office hit, THE SCHNITZEL PARADISE, he has written several feature films including TOTAL LOSS and EXPELLED, both of which were internationally awarded. He took up directing in 2005, and has directed several shorts as well as a television series based upon THE SCHNITZEL PARADISE. Van Geffen’s short film MY SISTER was nominated for the Palm D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.


Fellipe Barbosa /CASA GRANDE (Brazil, co-writer Karen Sztajnberg) – A teenage boy struggles to define his future and explore issues of class privilege among Rio's decadent elite while his overprotective parents spiral into bankruptcy.

Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa was born in Rio de Janeiro and completed his MFA in film at Columbia University. His two shorts – LA MUERTE ES PEQUENA and SALT KISS – both screened at Sundance Film Festival in 2006 and 2007. SALT KISS was also an official selection of the New York Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, and won over 10 international awards. With CASA GRANDE, Barbosa went through the 2008 Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs, and was recently awarded an Annenberg Foundation Grant. Barbosa was included in Filmmaker Magazine’s 2008 issue of “25 New Faces of Independent Film”.

Marcelo Gomes and Cao Guimar?£es /THE MAN OF THE CROWD (Brazil) – In a vast Brazilian metropolis, two solitary subway employees gradually come to know one another, triggering a change in perspective on their lonely lives.

Marcelo Gomes' first feature film CINEMA, ASPIRIN AND VULTURES premiered in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005, receiving the Award of the French Ministry of Education. The film was acclaimed worldwide in numerous film festivals and received more than 50 awards.

Cao Guimar?£es is a filmmaker and visual artist. His documentaries have participated in various film festivals, such as Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Cinema du R?©el and IDFA. His last film, THE DRIFTER premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2007.

Diego Lerman / THE DISCIPLINE MONITOR (LA PRECEPTORA NACIONAL) (Argentina) – During the last years of the military dictatorship, a sexually repressed school monitor in Buenos Aires indulges in a strange compulsion, allowing her dark desires to compromise her role at the school.

Born in Buenos Aires, Lerman’s first feature film, TAN DE REPENTE (SUDDENLY) won more than 30 international prizes, including the Silver Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival, The Jury Special and the Public Awards at the Buenos Aires International Film Festival and Best Film and Best Actress in La Habana International Film Festival. In 2003, he was selected for Cannes’ Cinefondation Residence in Paris where he wrote MIENTRAS TANTO (MEANWHILE). The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2006 and was selected for New Directors New Films and Karlovy Vary. His short films include LA PRUEBA (1999) and LA GUERRA DE LOS GIMNASIOS (THE WAR OF THE GYMS) selected for both the Locarno Film Festival and Rotterdam Film Festival. His documentary SERVICIOS PRESTADOS premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in 2008.


Dee Rees / PARIAH (USA) – When forced to choose between the fragile cohesion of her middle-class family and imperative loyalty to her best friend, a Bronx teenager is forced to juggle conflicting identities and risk friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Dee Rees is an alumna of New York University’s Graduate film program and a 2008 Renew Media Arts Fellow. Her short film, PARIAH has screened at over 40+ festivals worldwide, garnering more than 25+ awards/accolades. Rees continued development on her feature script PARIAH at the 2008 Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs and was named as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 2008 “25 New Faces of Independent Film”. Rees worked as a script supervision intern on Spike Lee’s films WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE and INSIDE MAN and is currently wrapping post-production on a feature documentary titled EVENTUAL SALVATION, which received a grant from the Sundance Documentary fund and won the 2007 Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award. She is also the recipient of the Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship.

David Riker/ THE GIRL (USA) – A young, single mother from South Texas is thrown into an unexpected and life-changing journey when her attempt to smuggle immigrants across the border ends disastrously, leaving her stranded with a young girl from southern Mexico.

Riker is a New York-based filmmaker currently living in Mexico. His debut feature, THE CITY (LA CIUDAD), filmed over the course of five years in New York’s Latin American immigrant community. THE CITY (LA CIUDAD) won awards at the Havana, San Sebastian, and Human Rights Watch International Film Festivals to name a few. Riker received the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival as co-writer of the feature film SLEEP DEALER. He attended the 2007 Screenwriters Lab with THE GIRL and is a recipient of the Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and Annenberg Fellowships.

John Magary / BLOOD ABUNDANCE, OR THE HALF-LIFE OF ANTOINETTE (USA) – Set amidst poverty, with moments of both joy and upheaval, BLOOD ABUNDANCE, OR THE HALF-LIFE OF ANTOINETTE is a retelling of the chaotic life of Antoinette Dawson as she raises her seven children in New Orleans.

A graduate of Williams College and Columbia University’s MFA film program, John Magary has written and directed several short films, including THE SECOND LINE (National Finalist, Student Academy Awards, Special Jury Award, SXSW), SITE IN FISHKILL CREEK, and OUR NATIONAL PARKS, among others. Both THE SECOND LINE and OUR NATIONAL PARKS premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Various grants include a Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship, an Annenberg Film Fellowship, and a Grand Marnier Film Fellowship. His criticism has appeared in Film Comment and The Reeler. BLOOD ABUNDANCE, OR THE HALF-LIFE OF ANTOINETTE went through the 2008 Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs.


qurata kenji / SPEED GIRL (Japan) – Nijiko, a gifted speed skater, runs through the world at full speed, leaving her friend Mitsuo in her wake. When Nijiko mysteriously disappears, Mitsuo learns what it means to look out for someone in love and prayer.

Qurata Kenji started making films in 1992 and established the production company EGT in 1993. Qurata produced commercials, developed projects for late night TV, and was involved in the development and production of various feature films, including SEISHUN DOROBO (YOUTH ROBBER), MYSTERY OF AKANE-CHO, YUREI SHOJYO GAKSHOU DAN (THE GHOST CHOIR GIRLS). He went on to direct promotional and concert videos, as well as establishing Coyote, a cooperative for the development of films. Qurata’s films include SEISHUN DOROBO (YOUTH ROBBER), MYSTERY OF AKANE-CHO, YUREI SHOJYO GAKSHOU DAN (THE GHOST CHOIR GIRLS).

Yukiko Mishima / WHEN NOBODY CALLS YOUR NAME (Japan) – A middle-aged crematorium worker emerges from a life of solitude when an 8 year old boy asks her to pose as his mother so he can join a boxing gym.

Yukiko Mishima made 8mm films while a student at Kobe College. She went on to direct documentaries at NHK, and while working as an assistant director, started writing for film, television and theatre. Her works include LOVE 30 at Parco Play, DOUSEI DOUMEI NO ONNA (THE WOMAN WITH THE SAME NAME), and YUME NO ONDO (THE WARMTH OF DREAMS,) among others. Mishima is also the leader of the theatrical group Mrs. Cappdocia, for which she wrote and directed SHADANKI (THE RAILWAY CROSSING GATE).

Season Noda (niga oolong) /LIMBO MAMBO (Japan) – When Tadahito Urushibara unexpectedly dies and becomes a corporeal ghost, he has the opportunity to reexamine his life, forge new bonds with his family, and resolve his relationships.

Noda entered Musashino Art University in 2003. There, he established the film and theatre group Niga-Uron (Bitter Oolong Tea). He has been exploring the possibilities of video expression and narrative since making his graduation project, BEYOND AOMI’S SECOND WARD, which won the Pia Film Festival Jury Prize and SEMIGAO, winner of the Pia Film Festival Audience Award. In his spare time, Noda also plans and runs film festivals.

NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) is Japan’s largest broadcaster. Since 1925, it has continued to offer fair, impartial reporting and high quality programs, earning the viewers’ trust as the nation’s sole public broadcaster. Through its five 24-hour TV channels (two terrestrial/three satellite) and three radio channels, NHK provides programs of all genres from news and education to sports and entertainment, and serves as the hub of Japanese visual culture. NHK’S arts and entertainment satellite channel, which was introduced in 1989, broadcasts more than 600 high quality international films each year. In order to contribute to the development of film culture and the promotion of cultural exchange, NHK is devoted to supporting burgeoning filmmakers who have the potential to guide the industry’s future development. Along with the “Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award,” NHK also produces the “Asian Film Festival” which offers opportunities to emerging film directors in Asia.

Sundance Institute NHK Int'l Filmmakers Award

The Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award was first established in 1996 by Sundance Institute in partnership with NHK to celebrate 100 years of cinema and to honor and support emerging independent filmmakers whose originality, talent, and vision we believe will contribute significantly to the future of world cinema. Since 1981, the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program (FFP) has supported more than 450 independent filmmakers whose distinctive, singular work has engaged audiences worldwide. Program staff fully embrace the unique vision of each filmmaker, encouraging a rigorous creative process with a focus on original and deeply personal storytelling. Each year, up to 25 emerging filmmakers from the U.S. and around the world participate in a year-round continuum of support which can include the Screenwriters and Directors Labs, Composers Lab, Independent Producers Conference, ongoing creative and strategic advice, significant production and post-production resources, a rough-cut screening initiative, a Screenplay Reading Series, and direct financial support through project-specific grants and artist fellowships. In many cases, the Institute has helped the Program’s fellows attach producers and talent, secure financing, and assemble other significant resources to move their projects toward production and presentation. In 2008 the FFP launched the Creative Producing Initiative, a year-long Fellowship program for emerging independent producers, which will include a Creative Producing Lab, industry mentorship, and financial support.