The 2024 Sundance Film Festival’s Beyond Film — described as a “community hub for Festivalgoers through artist conversations, talks with filmmakers and experts across the fields of art and science, and audience discourse,” as per the press release — has revealed its lineup of speakers and events slated for Jan. 19 to Jan. 26. This will be the festival’s 40th anniversary with special celebration events for the occasion.
Speakers this year include Jesse Eisenberg, Steven Soderbergh, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sue Bird, Dee Rees, Lucy Lawless, André Holland, Debra Granik, Jay Ellis and Nzingha Stewart. Additionally, there will be a “New Frontier: Let’s Rebrand Artificial Intelligence!” conversation about technology and popular culture led by experts in the field.
As part of the lineup, there will be a special screening of the music documentary “The Greatest Night in Pop,” which spotlights the recording session behind the song “We Are the World” from Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper and many more artists.
“Our Beyond Film programming is a crucial and inspiring part of the Sundance Film Festival experience,” said Ania Trzebiatowska, Beyond Film program curator. “It’s during these intimate conversations that audiences can discover themes across our Festival Program and hear from artists themselves about the vitality of independent storytelling, the interwovenness of art, science, and culture, and so much more.”
Gold House and Sundance Launch First-Of-Its-Kind Multicultural Filmmakers Fund
The Sundance Institute One House Filmmakers Fund has launched a multicultural Fund led by Gold House.
Ten filmmakers will receive unrestricted funding – made possible by the East West Bank Foundation, mentorship and training needed to amplify their work as filmmakers from historically underrepresented communities
In addition to Gold House, Sundance Institute, and East West Bank Foundation, the One House Filmmakers Fund’s selections were made in collaboration with Latinx House, GLAAD, the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, and RespectAbility, whose executives served on the selection committee. The inaugural cohort of ten filmmakers will receive unrestricted funding, collaborative mentorship with established filmmakers and industry executives; skills training; comprehensive business-building support; and amplification through interactive programming hosted by Gold House and partners throughout the year. The filmmakers and respective projects in development in the 2024 cohort are:
Arun Bhattarai for “Agent of Happiness”, Naveen Chaubal for “Pinball”, Marissa Chibás for “1972,” StormMiguel Florez for “Welcome To Roswell,” Jalena Keane-Lee for “Standing Above the Clouds,”Sura Mallouh for “Untitled Sura Mallouh Project,” Walé Oyéjidé for “Chiaroscuro,” Otilia Portillo Padua for “The Queendom,” Shrihari Sathe for “Doha – The Rising Sun,” Julie Forrest Wyman for “Untitled Dwarfism Project.”
“The East West Bank Foundation is proud to be a founding partner of the One House Filmmakers Fund,” said Dominic Ng, Chairman and CEO, East West Bank. “One of our main goals is to advance diversity and inclusion in all industries, including entertainment and the arts. Strengthening storytelling by diverse filmmakers is a powerful way to build bridges between communities.”
“Sundance Institute has been championing artists to tell stories that reflect their lived realities for over 40 years. We are excited for the opportunity to partner with Gold House to provide vital funding to multicultural artists working in fiction and non-fiction to advance their projects and increase representation on and off screen. The ten filmmakers selected for the inaugural year of the One House Filmmaker Fund are important voices working in independent film today and we are thrilled to be able to continue elevating these voices.” said Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs, Director, Sundance Institute Artist Accelerator Program.
“Communities demand that the world we watch reflect the world we live in–on both sides of the camera. We’re thankful for the financial support of East West Bank Foundation and the partnership of our peer-leading multicultural organizations as we invest formidable capital, resources, and platforms to create a first-of-its-kind investment and convening vehicle for the next generation of pioneering multicultural filmmakers. If we’re stronger together, then we’d better start now.” said Christine Yi, General Manager of the Gold House Creative Equity Fund.
Ava DuVernay to Receive Lynn Stalmaster Award for Career Achievement at Artios Awards
The Casting Society has announced that Ava DuVernay will receive the Lynn Stalmaster Award for Career Achievement at the 39th annual Artios Awards on March 7. The awards honor the contributions of casting professionals in film, scripted and unscripted television, commercials and theater.
“Ava DuVernay is a visionary storyteller who has staunchly championed casting professionals and the art of casting throughout her impactful career,” said Destiny Lilly, president of CSA. “Her passion for inclusive and progressive casting throughout her career has catapulted careers and made her a leader in the industry. We are thrilled to honor her with the Lynn Stalmaster Award at this year’s ceremony.”
DuVernay also commented on the honor.
“In my film ‘Origin,’ the process of casting became the primary brushstroke on the canvas. Working with my casting director Aisha Coley to surround our leading lady Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor was a joy and a thrill. Each of the actors in the ‘Origin’ ensemble are stellar in their experience, energy, intellect and enthusiasm,” said DuVernay. “They are the latest in a series of extraordinary casts that I’ve had the great honor of guiding over the years. To be recognized for those efforts by this esteemed organization is a true gift for which I’m abundantly grateful.”
DuVernay’s film “Origin” is based on the book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson. It will have a wide release in theaters on Jan. 19.
‘Barbie,’ ‘The Zone of Interest‘ and More Win Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards
The Alliance of Women Film Journalists has announced the winners of the annual AWFJ EDA awards.
“Barbie” took home multiple awards in the “Best Of” category, including Best Director for Greta Gerwig, Original Screenplay for Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, Supporting Actor for Ryan Gosling, and the film’s casting directors Lucy Brava and Allison Jones also took home an award. Elsewhere, “American Fiction” garnered multiple trophies, with Cord Jefferson winning adapted screenplay. Jeffrey Wright won for best actor, and the film tied with “Barbie” for Best Ensemble Cast, with casting director Jennifer Euston recognized. Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest” won Best Film and Best International Film (UK and Poland).
Best Documentary went to Matthew Heineman’s “American Symphony” and Anna Hints’ “Smoke Sauna Sisterhood.” Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron” was awarded Best Animated Film. In the acting categories, Lily Gladstone won Best Actress for her role in “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Da’Vine Joy Randolph won Best Actress, Supporting for “The Holdovers.” Rodrigo Prieto won Best Cinematography and Thelma Schoonmacher won Best Editing for “Killers of the Flower Moon”
The AWFJ also awarded the EDA Female Focus Awards. Best Female Director went to Justine Triet for her Palme d’or winner “Anatomy of a Fall.” Celine Song won Best Female Screenwriter for her film “Past Lives.” Hailee Steinfeld won Best Animated Female for her portrayal of Gwen Stacy in “Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse.” Lily Gladstone took home a second award for Best Breakthrough Performance in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
Lastly, Fran Drescher was recognized for Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Film Industry “for leading SAG-AFTRA through the actors’ strike and standing strong for an equitable contract.”
Peter Farrelly Joins ‘Daruma’ as Executive Producer
Academy Award winner Peter Farrelly has joined the independent film “Daruma” as an executive producer. The film is set to screen at the Slamdance Film Festival on Jan. 21.
The film is directed by Alexander Yellen and stars Barry Bostwick, Abigail Hawk, Tobias Forrest, John Lawson and Victoria Scott.
Per the film’s description, “Daruma” is “the story of a bitter wheelchair user (Forrest) who discovers he has a daughter from a forgotten fling and his journey to drive her across the country to live with her maternal grandfather (Bostwick). The only person who can help him is his cantankerous neighbor, a double amputee (Lawson).”
“This film is funny, moving, and very real,” Farrelly said. “The story avoids the usual tropes about disability and speaks to all audiences. Tobias’ performance as Patrick is fantastic. John Lawson steals almost every scene he’s in, and Victoria Scott reminds me of Brooklynn Prince from ‘The Florida Project’—a true natural. ‘Daruma’ is great.”
Farrelly also said of “Daruma” that it was his “favorite disability movie ever, because it’s not about disability.”
Farrelly is known for directing Best Picture winner “Green Book.”