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Sundance’s unheralded short film and grant winners

January 27, 2011

SundanceThe Sundance Film Festival reaches its climax on Saturday when winners of best feature films and their directors, writers, cinematographers and sometimes actors are announced. And make no mistake, those winners will go on to claim movie glory both outside and inside Hollywood.

Don’t believe us? Take one quick look at last year. What was the Sundance 2010 jury prize winner for best dramatic film? “Winter’s Bone.” What is a 2010 best film Oscar nominee? “Winter’s Bone.” What was the Sundance 2010 jury prize winner for best documentary? “Restrepo.” What is a 2010 best documentary Oscar nominee? “Restrepo.”

Tuesday night at separate events, Sundance gave out awards to individuals who often go unheralded at the festival: makers of short films and, for the first time this year, winners of a filmmaking grant from Indian company Mahindra Rise.

First, the short films. Sundance uses a panel of film industry jurors to pick  winners and the jury prize for U.S. shorts went to “Brick Novax pt 1 and 2″ by writer/director Matt Piedmont. It tells of a faded superstar named Brick Novax who is now down-and-out with only weeks to live. The jury prize for internationals shorts went to “Deeper Than Yesterday” from Australian writer/director Ariel Kleiman. It’s the story of a crew trapped aboard a submerged submarine for three months. Honorable mentions went to “Choke,” “Diarchy” and “The External World” “The Legend of Beaver Dam,” “Out of Reach” and “Protoparticles.” You can watch the awards ceremony here.

Separately, at the Sundance Institute/Mahindra Rise Filmmaking Award ceremony, four filmmakers were given a $10,000 grant to help develop their scripts into feature films, will be invited to the Sundance labs where they will be mentored, and they will be introduced to industry pros who can help them get their movies made and, possibly, distributed. They were Bogdan Mustata with his “Wolf” from Romania, Ernesto Contreras and “I Dream In Another Language” from Mexico, Seng Tat Liew with “In What City Does it Live?” from Malaysia, and Talya Lavie for “Zero Motivation” from Israel.  There is no video of that event, believe us, the filmmakers were excited — Mustata had to wipe away a few tears.

Mahindra Rise and the Sundance Institute also unveiled plans to conduct a screenwriters lab in Mumbai, called the Mumbai Mantra/Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab. Mumbai Mantra director Rohit Khattar explained to Reuters that while India has a huge and thriving film industry with its Bollywood musicals, western-style dramas that explore human dilemmas are less common and the labs will be designed to nurture filmmakers who can tell those types of stories.

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