Sundance/NHK unveil finalists for filmmaker prize

Thu Nov 6, 2008 7:40pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Sundance Institute and Japanese broadcaster NHK on Thursday unveiled the 12 finalists for their filmmaking prize that supports new and emerging voices in independent cinema from around the world.

The Sundance/NHK Filmmakers Award, given out each January at the Sundance Film Festival, is now in its thirteenth year and although it is not as well-known as winning a festival prize, the exposure that comes from being an NHK winner can help fund a project that might not otherwise get made.

From the 12 finalists, four winners will be picked -- one each from Europe, Latin America, the United States and Japan. Each receives $10,000 in cash and NHK guarantees it will acquire Japanese broadcast rights to the eventual film, which can be worth as much as $100,000.

Past winners include films such as Walter Salles' "Central Station" from Brazil and Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know," a U.S. entry.

Fernando Eimbcke, whose drama "Lake Tahoe" was a 2006 Sundance/NHK winner, is now seeing his movie play in theaters. It screened this week at AFI Fest in Los Angeles.

Eimbcke told Reuters the movie received most all of its funding from one source, and the one financier read the screenplay because it had won the Sundance/NHK award.

"If people know the quality, the name of Sundance -- one of the most important festivals -- and NHK broadcast, they immediately get interested," Eimbcke said.

One of this year's finalists from the United States, David Riker with "The Girl," said the recognition from a Japanese broadcaster also is important because it shows his story about a single mom who resorts to smuggling immigrants has resonance beyond the U.S. and Latin America.   Continued...