LOS ANGELES, CA — Sundance Institute today announced the Vanguard Award, honoring Michelle Satter, Founding Director of the Institute’s Feature Film Program, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Robert Redford, Sundance Institute Founder and President, announced the new award at a benefit for Sundance Institute held at Franklin Canyon Ranch in Los Angeles.
The Vanguard Award celebrates the innovation, originality, and independent spirit that the Feature Film Program, under the leadership of Michelle Satter, has fostered in artists over its 30-year history. Honoring an emerging artist who embodies visionary storytelling and is developing a project that engages audiences in fresh and exciting ways, the Vanguard Award will be presented at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and come with a cash grant, attendance at the Festival, and mentorship from industry professionals and Institute staff.
Joshua Marston, an alumnus of the of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program and the writer and director of Maria Full of Grace, said, “I can think of no other single individual who has so personally and so directly influenced the history of independent cinema in the United States than Michelle Satter. Michelle embodies the support, the encouragement to take risks, and the facilitating of creative collaboration that define Sundance.”
Sundance Institute Feature Film Program
Since 1981, the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program (FFP) has supported more than 450 independent filmmakers whose distinctive, singular work has engaged audiences worldwide. The program’s approach to the discovery and development of independent artists has become a model for creative development programs internationally. 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, Creative Producing Fellowship and Lab, Composers Lab, Creative Producing Summit, ongoing creative and strategic advice, significant production and postproduction 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 addition, the FFP is providing strategic resources to completed Lab films in distribution and marketing across all platforms to support and expand their connection to audiences worldwide.
Over its 30 year history, the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program has supported an extensive list of award-winning and groundbreaking independent films. Four FFP films – Liza Johnson’s Return, Alejandro Landes’ Porfirio, Hagar Ben-Asher’s The Slut, and Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene – screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Other notable films supported over the program’s history include Dee Rees’ Pariah, Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance, Eric Mendelsohn’s 3 Backyards, Shirin Neshat’s Women Without Men, Cherien Dabis’ Amreeka, Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre, Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer, Fernando Eimbcke’s Lake Tahoe, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s Half Nelson, Andrea Arnold’s Red Road, Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now, Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone, Ira Sachs’ Forty Shades of Blue, Josh Marston’s Maria Full of Grace, Lisa Cholodenko’s Laurel Canyon, Peter Sollett’s Raising Victor Vargas, John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry, Tony Bui’s Three Seasons, Walter Salles’ Central Station, Chris Eyre and Sherman Alexie’s Smoke Signals, Allison Anders’ Mi Vida Loca, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight, Tamara Jenkins’ Slums of Beverly Hills, and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.
Sundance Institute is a global nonprofit organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, I Am My Own Wife, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America.
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Casey De La Rosa