Sundance Institute Announces 2010 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award Finalists

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Los Angeles, CA – Sundance Institute and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) today announced the

twelve finalists for the 2010 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award. In its fourteenth 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 28, 2010 at the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award reception at the Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Film Festival runs January 21-31, 2010, in and around Park City, Utah.

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

“We’re thrilled by the quality and diversity of this year’s finalists. In an exceptionally strong year, their projects stood out because of their originality, humor and the worlds they reflect,” said Alesia Weston, Associate Director of the Sundance Feature Film Program, International.

“The Sundance/NHK Award represents our commitment to providing financial support to international filmmakers with singular, authentic voices, and original stories to tell. We have an excellent group of finalists, and we look forward to inviting the four winners to the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and working with them throughout the year,” added Michelle Satter, Director, Sundance Institute Feature Film Program.

Past recipients of the Sundance/NHK Filmmakers award include: Lucrecia Martel, LA CIENAGA (Argentina); Alex Rivera, THE SLEEP DEALER (USA); Fernando Eimbcke, LAKE TAHOE (Mexico); Miranda July, ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (USA); Andrucha Waddington, THE HOUSE OF SAND (Brazil); Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, WHISKY (Uruguay); Walter Salles, CENTRAL STATION (Brazil); György Pálfi, TAXIDERMIA (Hungary); Kanji Nakajima, CLONE RETURNS HOME (Japan); and Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, HUACHO (Chile). The 2009 recipients were: Lucile Hadzihalilovic EVOLUTION (France), Diego Lerman, CIENCIAS MORALES (Argentina), David Riker, THE GIRL (USA), and Qurata Kenji SPEED GIRL (Japan).

The twelve finalists for the 2010 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards are:


Pablo Berger / SNOWHITE (Spain) In 1920s Spain, an orphaned girl is kidnapped by a wicked stepmother but escapes to join a troupe of dwarf matadors who help her claim her legacy as Spain’s top bullfighter.

Pablo Berger was born in Bilbao and completed his MFA in Film at New York University/Tisch School of the Arts. His debut feature and box office hit TORREMOLINOS 73 premiered at the Málaga Film Festival, winning Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress, and was nominated for four Goya Awards including Best Screenplay and Best New Director. TORREMOLINOS 73 was released in more than 50 countries and won numerous international awards, including the New Voices/New Visions Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival. In 2007 a

Chinese remake of TORREMOLINOS 73 was also a smash hit in that country. SNOWHITE participated in the 2009 Berlinale Co-production Market and has received support from the CNC (Centre National du Cinema) and Eurimages.

Maria Saakyan / I’M GOING TO CHANGE MY NAME AKA ALAVERDY (Armenia) A neglected teenager struggles with her blossoming sexuality and suicidal thoughts while searching for the father she has never known.

Maria Saakyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia in 1980 and moved to Russia in 1992 where she studied film directing and animation at VGIK, Vladimir Kobrin’s workshop. She made the experimental and animated short films IGRA, ZOO, and LULLABY. Her 2003 degree project PROSHANIE (THE FAREWELL) was selected for the Oberhausen, Rotterdam and Telluride Film Festivals. Her first feature MAYAK (THE LIGHTHOUSE) (2006) was selected for competition in Rotterdam, London, Sao Paolo and many others, winning the Grand-Prix at Split Film Festival and Best Debut at Golden Apricot Film Festival. I’M GOING TO CHANGE MY NAME has been supported by B2B, Belgrade, DAB at the Golden Apricot Film Festival and was recently selected for the Torino Film Lab Development Program.

Andrei Zviagintsev / ELENA (Russia) An elderly woman who has lived with her rich husband in a large, comfortable home tries to rescue her alcoholic son from poverty and give his family the opportunity for a better life that she alone could not provide.

Andrei Zviagintsev graduated from The Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS) where he was trained as an actor, then worked on independent theatre projects and acted in TV series and films. In 2000 Andrei made his first short TV fiction films as a director. His first motion picture THE RETURN was nominated for the Golden Globe after winning the Golden Lion and the Lion of the Future for the best director’s debut at the Venice Film Festival. His second feature film BANISHMENT premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival where Konstantin Lavronenko won the award for Best Leading Actor Award, the first ever for a Russian actor.


Amat Escalante / HELI (Mexico) In a small Mexican town, where most citizens work for an automobile assembly plant or the local drug cartel, Heli is confronted with police corruption, drug trafficking, sexual exploitation, love, guilt and revenge in the search for his father who has mysteriously disappeared.

Born in 1979, Amat Escalante is a self-taught filmmaker from Guanajuato, Mexico. At age 15, he began to devote himself completely to cinema. His first feature SANGRE premiered in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival 2005, where it received the FIPRESCI Prize. His second feature film LOS BASTARDOS also premiered in the Official Selection Un Certain Regard Cannes in 2008 and won numerous awards including Best Film at the Morelia, Sitges and Mar del Plata film festivals. It has been distributed worldwide, including Mexico, USA, France and Canada.

Rodrigo Plá / LA DEMORA (THE DELAY) (Uruguay/Mexico) Maria, unable to cope with taking care of her elderly father who is losing his memory and becoming a burden to her family, secretly abandons him in a public square.

A cum laude graduate of Mexico’s Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC), Rodrigo Plá has written and directed five short films, including EL OJO EN LA NUCA, which won the Honorary Foreign Student Oscar Award. His first feature LA ZONA won the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a First Feature Film at the Venice Film Festival and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Toronto Film Festival. His second feature DESERT WITHIN made its international debut at the closing ceremony of Critics Week during the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, received seven Mayahuel awards at the Guadalajara International Film Festival in 2008 and was awarded with eight Ariels by the Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences.

Manuel Nieto Zas / EL LUGAR DEL HIJO (THE MILITANT) (Uruguay) A college student involved in militant leftist activism is faced with some difficult decisions when his father suddenly dies, leaving him in charge of their troubled ranch and forcing him to take on the role of a middle class bourgeois.

Born in Montevideo, Manuel Nieto Zas graduated in media studies from the Catholic University of Uruguay. He worked in TV before directing the short film NICO & PARKER. Since then, he has worked as assistant director on 25 WATTS and WHISKY by Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, LOS MUERTOS and LIVERPOOL by Lisandro Alonso and HAMACA PARAGUAYA by Paz Encina. His first feature film LA PERRERA (THE DOGPOUND) premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2006, where it won the VPRO Tiger Award. In 2008 Nieto was selected for Cannes’ Cinefondation Residence in Paris to work on his second film project EL LUGAR DEL HIJO.


Benh Zeitlin / BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (USA) In the Louisiana Delta, a ferocious ten-year-old girl refuses to evacuate her home without her dying father as the Southern Apocalypse descends upon them.

Raised by two folklorists in Queens, NY, Benh Zeitlin is a director, animator, and composer for the Court 13 coterie. Director of award-winning shorts EGG, ORIGINS OF ELECTRICITY, I GET WET and GLORY AT SEA, Filmmaker Magazine recently named him one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” Zeitlin participated in the 2009 June Screenwriters and Directors Lab and is the recipient of a Sundance grant from the Annenberg Foundation. He currently resides in New Orleans where he is developing two feature films and transforming GLORY AT SEA’s ship, the U.S.S Jimmy Lee, into a rolling, pop-corn making, movie projector cum Mardi-Gras float in preparation for Carnival 2010.

So Yong Kim / FOR ELLEN (USA) When an aspiring young rock musician agrees to sign divorce papers with his estranged wife, he discovers he is not ready to forfeit all custody of his six-year-old daughter.

FOR ELLEN is So Yong Kim’s third feature film. Her critically acclaimed second feature TREELESS MOUNTAIN, developed with the support of the Sundance Feature Film Program Labs, was released by Oscilloscope Laboratories and received numerous awards worldwide. Kim’s first feature, IN BETWEEN DAYS, was acclaimed by critics and won the Special Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival along with the International Critics’ Prize at Berlin. Kino International and the Sundance Channel released the film. Kim has produced two films by Bradley Rust Gray: SALT and THE EXPLODING GIRL.

Andrew MacLean / ON THE ICE (USA) On the snow-covered arctic tundra, at the top of the world in Barrow, Alaska, two Iñuit teenagers try to get away with murder.

Andrew Okpeaha MacLean is an Iñupiaq filmmaker born and raised in Alaska. As a short film, SIKUMI (ON THE ICE) premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking and went on to many other awards at festivals around the world. He is a recipient of a United States Artists Rasmuson Fellowship, the John H. Johnson Film Award, and the 2007-2008 Riese Award, among other honors. Maclean participated in the 2009 June Screenwriters and Directors Lab and is the recipient of a Sundance grant from the Annenberg Foundation. MacLean holds his MFA in film directing from NYU.


Tamako Hioki / NO WOMAN NO CRY (Japan) A 30-year-old woman employed at a factory in the outskirts of town leads a quiet mundane life, but she gradually begins to feel a sense of community among her co-workers when she starts noticing their small kindnesses.

Tamako Hioki started making films while a member of the Film Club at Waseda University. Her first film, the 8mm TAMAKO NO HANASHI won the grand prize at the Tokyo Student Film Festival and the Special Audience Prize at the 20th PIA Film Festival. She was a member of the inaugural class of a university-business partnership with Waseda University and PIA Corporation. She has worked as an assistant director and has made the short and medium length films TANPEN SHOSETSU, NATSUFUKU, and AME-NO HI-WA SHOGANI.

Ryo Nakajima / SLEEPING BEAUTY (Japan) A patient in a vegetative state receives cutting-edge deep brain stimulation treatment, enabling the attending nurse to see the patient’s memories and discover her secret.

Ryo Nakajima made his first feature THIS WORLD OF OURS, which led him to join Stardust Pictures in 2007 as a director. This film won the Special Jury Prize, Technical Achievement Award, and the Best Entertainment Award at the Pia Film Festival. It played in 11 international film festivals in 2007 including Vancouver and Rotterdam and won the Best New Director Award in the New York Asian Film Festival. His commercial feature debut, RISE UP, starring Kento Hayashi and Rio Yamashita will open in theaters in November 2009.


Daisuke Yamaoka / THE WONDERFUL LIVES AT ASAHIGAOKA (Japan) A young woman’s suicide attempt leaves her in a coma but stirs up the lives of the people around her in the sleepy riverside town of Asahigaoka.

Daisuke Yamaoka worked for production companies before completing LOST GIRL in 2007. LOST GIRL was released in 2009 and exhibited in Shibuya’s Eurospace Theater and screened at the Dresden International Film Festival in Germany. MIKA AND SEIJUN screened at the Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Austin International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and won the Toru Murakami Award at the Yamagata International Movie Festival. His film DEATH: THE ONLY CURE FOR IDIOTS from Kanagawa University was a runner-up in the Kanagawa Film Concours Grand Prize.

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.

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, Film Composers Lab,

Creative Producing Summit, Creative Producing Lab, 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.

Sundance Institute

Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a not-for-profit organization that fosters the development of original storytelling in film and theatre, and presents the annual Sundance Film Festival. Internationally recognized for its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Angels in America, Spring Awakening, Boys Don’t Cry, Sin Nombre, Born into Brothels and Trouble the Water.

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