Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Awards Recognize Emerging Independent Filmmakers

Mahindra is a $14.4 billion multinational company from India that employs over one million people worldwide. Because of a partnership with Sundance Institute, it is now the happy agent of change for deserving filmmakers across the globe who want to see their artistic visions realized.

At an event at the Sundance House on Tuesday, Sundance Institute and Mahindra announced the winners of the 2012 Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award, in recognition and support of emerging independent filmmakers from around the world. The winning directors and projects are: Etienne Kallos, Vrystaat (Free State), from South Africa; Ariel Kleiman, Partisan, from Australia; Dominga Sotomayor, Late to Die Young, from Chile; and Shonali Bose, Margarita with a Straw, from India. The filmmakers will each receive a cash award of $10,000, attendance at the Festival for targeted industry and creative meetings, year-round mentoring from Institute staff and creative advisors, participation in a Feature Film Program Lab, and ongoing creative and strategic support. “This is an award that has great import for the filmmakers,” Michelle Satter, the director of the Institute’s Feature Film Program, said.

Sundance Institute/Mahindra Filmmaking Awards at Sundance House. Photo by Calvin Knight.

After explaining that he majored in film as an undergrad at Harvard, Anand Mahindra, the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Mahindra Group said, “I’m very grateful to Sundance for giving us this opportunity. Our purpose is to use all our resources to drive positive change in the lives of our stakeholders and communities across the world.”

The partnership between the Institute and Mahindra includes the establishment of a Mumbai Mantra/Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab in India, and extends over a three-year period. The Lab will provide an opportunity for eight screenwriters from India to develop their works under the guidance of accomplished international screenwriters in an environment that encourages storytelling at the highest level. 

The projects by the four winning filmmakers announced on Tuesday cover a wide range of both geographic and aesthetic ground. Etienne Kallos’ Free State is set during the annual corn harvest and explores the rites of passage into manhood for a new generation as they navigate identity and sexuality within the fractured realm of post-Colonial Africa. Ariel Kleiman’s Partisan is a confronting fable about Alexander who, raised to see the world through his parents eyes, is starting to think for himself.

Mahindra award winner Shonali Bose (India). Photo by Calvin Knight.

Dominga Sotomayor’s Late to Die Young takes place in an isolated community far from the city, where three women face a forest fire that threatens their sense of belonging and their lives. And Shonali Bose’s Margarita with a Straw is about Laila, whose brilliant and funny mind is trapped in a disobedient body as she falls repeatedly in love, yearns to have sex, and wants to be a Bollywood songwriter. Each of the filmmakers spoke briefly at the event, but an observation that Etienne Kallos made applies to them all: “I see storytelling as something bigger and better than myself,” he said.

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