Hilton LightStay Sustainability Award
Hilton Worldwide Announces Program with Sundance Institute
Three-year deal supports Sundance Documentary Film Program and Sundance Film Festival, creates LightStay award and fund for films that heighten sustainability awareness. Read more...
THE REVOLUTIONARY OPTIMISTS
Co-Directors: Maren Grainger-Monsen & Nicole Newnham
Category: Completed Feature Documentary
Children are saving lives in the slums of Calcutta. Amlan Ganguly doesn't rescue children; he empowers them to become change agents, battling poverty and transforming their neighborhoods with dramatic results. The Revolutionary Optimists follows Amlan and three of the children he works with – Salim, Kajal and Priyanka - on an intimate journey through adolescence, as they bravely fight the forces that oppress them – from polio to child labor and child marriage.
MAREN GRAINGER-MONSEN is a physician, filmmaker-in-residence and director of the Program in Bioethics in Film at the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics. Maren directed Hold Your Breath and Worlds Apart, a large-scale project on cross-cultural conflicts in medicine. Her films Where the Highway Ends: Rural Healthcare in Crisis, won a regional Emmy Award and Grave Words was awarded first place in the American Medical Association Film Festival. Maren studied film at the London International Film School, received her medical doctorate from the University of Washington and emergency medicine and palliative care training at Stanford University School of Medicine. In 1998, she founded the Program in Bioethics and Film at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.
NICOLE NEWNHAM is a documentary filmmaker and writer. Nicole recently co-produced and directed the critically acclaimed The Rape of Europa, about the fate of Europe's art treasures during WWII. Nicole was also nominated for a national Emmy Award for co-producing and directing the documentary Sentenced Home (2006). With Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Brian Lanker, she co-produced They Drew Fire (2000), a widely-acclaimed special for PBS about the combat artists of World War II, and wrote the companion book distributed by Harper Collins.
HUNGRY (working title)
Director: Sandy McLeod
Category: In Process Feature Documentary
Hungry (working title) documents the eroding biodiversity of our global food crops and the potentially dire consequences this will have for global agriculture in a new era of climate change. Pioneer Cary Fowler ardently tries to conserve crop diversity forever in gene banks around the globe. Meanwhile, a group of indigenous Peruvian farmers tries to save the vast diversity of the world’s third most important crop: the potato. Disparate, and yet complimentary, the connections between these efforts may hold sustainable solutions to saving the very foundation of our global food supply.
SANDY MCLEOD is an award-winning independent filmmaker whose 25-year career started with directing and producing music videos for musicians such as Talking Heads, UB40, Bruce Springsteen and Roy Orbison. As visual consultant for the concert film Stop Making Sense, McLeod worked with Jonathan Demme and Jordon Crownenweath to establish textural elements of this landmark film. She production designed Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia and collaborated with Demme on Haiti Dreams of Democracy. Sandy was second-unit director on John Sayles' films Limbo and Silver City. Her documentary Asylum, was Academy Award and Emmy-nominated and won numerous national and international awards.
IF YOU BUILD IT
Director: Patrick Creadon
Category: Completed Feature Documentary, Honorable Mention
If You Build It spends a year in the life of one of America’s most innovative classrooms. The stars of the film are Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller, founders of Project H Design, which is dedicated to design initiatives for Humanity, Habitats, Health, and Happiness. The film also features Emily and Matt’s students, 13 high school juniors in Bertie County, NC. Throughout the school year Emily and Matt will be teaching the fundamentals of design, architecture, and construction -- a curriculum they’ve named “Studio H.” But make no mistake... this is no ordinary high school shop class. And this will be no ordinary documentary film. Along with the “design-and-build” fundamentals their students will be learning, Emily and Matt will also be teaching them the principles of “design thinking” -- a very specific way of looking at problems to determine how best to solve them. According to Matt and Emily, design thinking can be broken down into six steps -- Research, Ideate, Develop, Prototype, Refine, and Build. If Emily and Matt are successful this school year, their students will leave Studio H equipped to tackle virtually any problem they will face throughout their lives.
PATRICK CREADON was born in Chicago and is a 1989 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. He began his career as one of the youngest cameramen in the history of PBS, shooting and producing cinema verite style stories for the critically acclaimed documentary series The 90’s. He earned his Master’s Degree in Cinematography at the American Film Institute, where his thesis film (on which he served as Director of Photography) was nominated for a student Academy Award. As a cameraman his work has appeared on every major network, including NBC, CBS, ABC, MTV, VH1, and ESPN. In 2009 he served on the U.S. Documentary Jury at the Sundance Film Festival. He also Executive Produced Superheroes with Christine O’Malley.
Director: Louisiana Kreutz
Category: Completed Short Documentary
Scientists predict that Guyana, one of the least explored rain forests on the planet, holds the greatest density of biodiversity per square kilometer found anywhere on the planet. But for most of its post-colonial history, the native peoples of Guyana have struggled for economic independence. Poverty and illiteracy have forced many of the adults into a life of lawlessness and poaching while their children often flee the country to seek work in Brazil's dangerous mines. Hope might be prowling in Guyana's rivers in the form of the largest freshwater fish in the world, the arapaima. Follow three expert fishermen as they undertake a two-week voyage deep into the heart of Guyana's rain forest, to a small village named Rewa. Their mission: to demonstrate that the arapaima can be caught with a fly rod. The outcome of this project will help to secure the funding to expand this program to other remote villages of the Rupanuni region and further develop this program as a template to be used globally. If they succeed, it will prove that the country's fledgling sport fishing industry is viable. And that will mean a brighter future for the native peoples, the rain forest they call home, and the endangered arapaima.
Louisiana Kreutz is a documentary filmmaker working out of Austin, Texas, and her hometown of New York City. She has edited for director Bradley Beesley, most notably on Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo, and directed several films of her own, including Jungle Fish for Costa Films. In all she does, she strives to create character-driven content.
THE ISLAND PRESIDENT
Director: Jon Shenk
Category: Completed Feature Documentary
The Island President is the story of Mohamed Nasheed, the complex and charismatic young leader of the Maldives, the chain of 2000 islands dotting the Indian Ocean. Nasheed rose from the trenches of democratic activism to become head of state of a nation whose very survival has come under threat by climate change. As the first democratically elected president of his Muslim country, Nasheed awakes from a long political nightmare only to face a crisis whose outcome will determine whether his low-laying archipelago becomes engulfed by the rising ocean caused by glacial melt. Nasheed leads the charge in a high-stakes battle to convince the world’s biggest polluters to turn the tide on global warming, culminating in trip to the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
Jon Shenk, Director/Cinematographer, is a documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, and founder of Actual Films in San Francisco. Shenk directed and photographed the Emmy-nominated Lost Boys of Sudan (2004), a feature documentary that follows two young refugees of Sudan’s civil war through their first year in America. He co-directed and photographed Democracy Afghan Style (2004, 80 minutes), a PBS/ITVS/Arte film about the post-war constitutional process in Afghanistan. He directed and photographed The Beginning (1999), an observational chronicle of George Lucas’s complex creative process during the making of Star Wars: Episode I. He earned his Masters degree in Documentary Filmmaking from Stanford University in 1995 and his B.A. from Yale in 1991.
UPDATE: The Island President was released theatrically in Spring 2012. The film is currently available on iTunes and DVD. During the film’s release President Nasheed was ousted from office in a military coup.
RAFEA: SOLAR MAMA
Co-directors: Mona Eldaief & Jehane Noujaim Category: In Progress Feature Documentary
Rafea is a Bedouin woman who lives with her four daughters in one of Jordan’s poorest desert villages on the Iraqi border. She is given a chance to travel to India to attend the Barefoot College, where illiterate grandmothers from around the world are trained in 6 months to be solar engineers. If Rafea succeeds, she will be able to electrify her village, train more engineers, and provide for her daughters.
Even when she returns as the first female solar engineer in the country, her real challenge will have just begun. Will she find support for her new venture? Will she be able to inspire the other women in the village to join her and change their lives? And most importantly, will she be able to re-wire the traditional minds of the Bedouin community that stands in her way?
Co-director: Jehane Noujaim
Noujaim was raised in Cairo, where she began her career as a photographer. After receiving her B.A. in film and philosophy at Harvard, Noujaim went on to produce and direct Startup.com (2001), in association with Pennebaker Hegedus Films, about the dotcom boom. Her second feature, Control Room (2004), provided a rare window into Al Jazeera and its impact on international perception of the Iraq War. Noujaim has also worked as a cinematographer on Born Rich (2003), Only the Strong Survive (2002), and Down from the Mountain (2002), and as executive producer on Encounter Point (2006) and Budrus (2010).
Co-director: Mona Eldaief
Mona Eldaief is a director, cinematographer, and editor of documentary film and television projects from around the world. Born in Cairo and raised in the United States, she graduated from New York University with a degree in political science and photography. Her documentary feature credits include work in various capacities on Control Room, A Wedding in Ramallah, and Her Name Is Zelda. Television credits include programs for PBS Frontline World, Discovery Networks, Travel Channel, ABC News, and MTV News and Docs.
UPDATE: The feature version of Rafea: Solar Mama premiered at IDFA in November 2012 and has since screened at Festivals in the U.S. and in the Middle East. The broadcast version premiered in November 2012 as part of the global event, "Why Poverty?"
EASY LIKE WATER
Director: Glenn Baker
Category: In Progress Feature Documentary
In rural Bangladesh, where persistent flooding has increasingly isolated the region and its inhabitants, visionary architect Mohammed Rezwan is building floating schools to turn the front lines of climate change into a community of learning. Easy Like Water shows how Rezwan’s creative “design for good” projects are re-casting Bangladesh’s rising rivers as channels of communication and transforming lives in the process. But can he overcome both extreme flooding and global indifference? Filmmaker Glenn Baker (Stand Up: Muslim American Comics Come of Age) seeks the answer to this question and others through a colorful journey of discovery, during which he offers a new perspective on the developing world as a cauldron of ideas and energy, and ultimately, a place where hope floats.
GLENN BAKER has produced more than 30 documentaries broadcast on PBS. He produced and directed STAND UP: Muslim American Comics Come of Age for the PBS series “America at a Crossroads,” which won a Cine Golden Eagle for Excellence in Broadcast Documentary. His productions on Cuba, conflict prevention, the firearms industry, and press/Pentagon rivalry have been recognized with more than a dozen national awards. His film “Our Strange Love Affair with the Bomb” explored the lighter side of nuclear weapons. Previously he was Senior Producer of “Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria,” and Co-Director of Azimuth Media, where he executive produced “Missile Wars” for the acclaimed series FRONTLINE. Baker grew up in India, Turkey, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Tunisia, an experience that informs his approach to making media that reflects diverse viewpoints and promotes dialogue.