Meet the Winners of the 2016 Sundance Ignite “What’s Next?” Challenge

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"What's Next?" That’s the question posed to filmmakers ages 18-24 by the Sundance Ignite x Adobe Project 1324 Short Film Challenge. 376 emerging filmmakers answered this question with 1-8 minute narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated short films. The films covered topics as wide ranging as dystopian futures, recovering from trauma, puberty, the afterlife, and the power of art -- just to name a few.

Entries were evaluated for technical excellence, creative interpretation of the challenge, demonstration of an original voice, innovative storytelling, and strong character or subject development to choose these 15 winners who will become the 2017 Sundance Ignite Fellows.

The Ignite Fellows Program, supported by Adobe Project 1324, is a competitive and intensive yearlong Sundance Institute experience designed to provide artistic and professional development, mentorship, and industry exposure for emerging filmmakers ages 18 to 24 commencing during the Sundance Film Festival. Ignite Fellows participate in the Ignite Ticket Package events and attend a customized program at Sundance Film Festival. Throughout the rest of the year, Fellows work with a mentor and are provided with opportunities to meet filmmakers and industry professionals, and participate in Sundance Institute programs and internships.

Emiliana Ammirata (La Casa Quebrada)
Venezuela

Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Emiliana is currently a film production student at Chapman University aspiring to become a female director of narrative and documentary filmmaking. Her interests were first sparked with cinematography and photography, a cinematic aspect that she deeply values and has pursued for most of her studies. Inspired by her country and Latin America, Emiliana hopes to tell uncommon stories that involve forward thinking issues and challenge societal stigmas.

Sachin Dharwadker (Breathe In Breathe Out)
New York

Sachin Dharwadker is a writer, director, and editor who recently graduated from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Film & Television. His narrative short films have screened at festivals around the world, and he’s currently in post-production on The Alternative, his NYU thesis film. When not creating or consuming motion pictures, Sachin enjoys reading, sports, and daydreaming.

Thea Gajic (Run)
United Kingdom

Thea Gajic is an actress and filmmaker born and raised in South London. She has performed at The Old Vic, SOHO Theatre and is a member of Old Vic New Voices. Her latest short film Run was chosen as BFI NET.WORK’S Postroom Pick of The Month as well as being selected by Short of The Week where she was applauded as “showcasing not only astute, rounded female characters but a strong directorial voice.”

Leah Galant (Putting the Fire Out)
New York

Leah was named one of Variety Magazine's "110 Students to Watch in Film and Media.” Her films focus on social justice themes through powerful individual stories. Projects have included a documentary film about a traveling abortion provider The Provider, that won a College Emmy Award and screened at SXSW and Beyond The Wall, a film about prison re-entry. Leah is currently the inaugural Sally Burns Shenkmen Women Filmmaker Fellow at Jacob Burns Film Center.

Emily Ann Hoffman (Ok, Call Me Back)
New York

Emily Ann Hoffman is an animator, filmmaker and illustrator based in NY. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015 and has since been doing freelance work while screening at independent film festivals internationally. She is currently working on a new short film as an Emerging Artist Fellow at the Jacob Burns Film Center.

Laura Holliday (Persephone Goes Home)
West Virginia

Laura has created comedic content for Funny or Die, Lifetime/A&E Networks, Fullscreen and others. She is a graduate of Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre LA, The Second City Conservatory Hollywood and Idyllwild Arts Academy. She is completing her BFA in Film Production at Art Center College of Design. Laura is passionate about creating opportunities for women in film and telling stories about Appalachia. She is from West Virginia.

Alex Kamb (Grandpa, Remember Me?)
Massachusetts

Throughout his childhood, Alex Kamb always felt an attraction to film. Waiting for his parents to fall asleep, he’d secretly enjoy all-nighter movie marathons on his 7-inch monitor portable DVD player. It wasn’t until late in his high school years that he discovered the emotional therapy that came from creating a film. He’s fallen completely in love with the medium and he aims to pose questions concerning the human experience in all of his films.

Vasilis Kekatos (Zero Star Hotel)
Greece

Vasilis Kekatos was born in 1991 in Greece. He completed his BA in Film Studies at Brunel University of London. He has directed several short documentaries and music videos. His first short film, Retrograde was selected by Drama ISFF and Athens Premiere Nights IFF. He is also the artistic director of SeaNema Open Air Film Festival, a film festival hosted in specially formed areas by the sea. He is currently working on his second short, The Silence of the Dying Fish, which is already funded by ERT National TV Channel. He lives and works in Athens.

Johanna Nyberg (Comedians)
Sweden

Johanna Nyberg is a director born and raised in Uppsala, Sweden currently based in Stockholm. In June 2016 she graduated Beckmans College of Design with a bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication and recently started up production company and directors-duo Cherry Cobra Films together with director Nathalie Hallman.

Esteban Cruz Orozco (La Siembra)
Colombia

Esteban was born in Bogotá, Colombia in October 1994. He is currently a senior in college, studying Audiovisual Communication at Universidad de La Sabana. Film is the way in which he tries to understand what surrounds him and sees it as an agent of self-reflection and transformation for society.

Olivia Peace (Pangaea)
Illinois

Olivia Peace is a filmmaker and visual artist living in Chicago, Illinois. Much of her work deals with themes of surrealism grounded in reality. Her short film Pangaea was Olivia’s final directorial piece while she was a student in the undergraduate film program at Northwestern University, following an animated short Lucid, along with several music videos.

Tyler Rabinowitz (Burning in Birmingham)
New York

Tyler Rabinowitz is a producer/director and alumnus of NYU Tisch, where he was named one of Variety Magazine's 2015 "Students to Watch.” He’s a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts and TED speaker. As producer, his clients include Universal Music, Republic Records and Crush Music. He has worked for Warner Bros., Sesame Workshop, Avy Kaufman, and YoungArts. His work has screened at the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center and garnered millions of views on YouTube.

Charlotte Regan (Standby)
United Kingdom

Charlotte is a London-born filmmaker who started off creating no budget rap videos for local artists. Since then she's created over 200 music promos and has worked with artists of all genres from Dot Rotten to Keaton Henson. She recently featured in Pro Moviemaker magazine as Samsung's “One To Watch”' and her short film Standby received its world premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

Minnie Schedeen (Part II)
California

Minnie Schedeen, 21, is a filmmaker from Los Angeles, California who grew up writing stories on her family’s berry farm in Oregon. She studied theater and classical piano in high school before enrolling at USC School of Cinematic Arts to pursue an education in writing and directing. She is fascinated by science-fiction as a means to explore human nature and hopes to pioneer a firm place for women and women’s stories in the genre.

Linhan Zhang (The Final Wish)
Hong Kong

Linhan grew up in Beijing and Hong Kong. He got into filmmaking at a young age and since then he has worked in different positions including director, assistant camera, assistant producer, and editor with various international crews. He is currently studying Film & TV at New York University.

Sundance Ignite is supported by Adobe Project 1324; The Birth of a Nation Fellowship, founded by the creative and producing teams of the film; S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the College of Visual Performing Arts at Syracuse University; and Chapman University, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

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