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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.
"This is...very meaningful because the story we're trying to tell has appeal in different parts of the world," Riker said. He also noted that recognition from Sundance gives industry watchers a signal that "the film is of a particular quality and particular taste."
For NHK, giving the award has meant being able "to present strong voices of young, independent filmmakers," said Morihisa Matsudaira, executive producer, drama programs, programing and production for NHK Enterprises. "NHK can build networks among promising filmmakers and their colleagues around the world."
Matsudaira added that among the defining characteristics of this year's finalists is "their insight and vision that depicts the era."
The 12 finalists are:
Celia Galan Julve, "Rosita Guzman Is Alive" (Spain)
Lucile Hadzihalilovic, "Evolution" (France)
Marco Van Geffen, "Among Us" (Netherlands)
Fellipe Barbosa, "Casa Grande" (Brazil)
Marcelo Gomes and Cao Guimaraes, "The Man of the Crowd" (Brazil)
Diego Lerman, "The Discipline Monitor" (Argentina)
Dee Rees, "Pariah"
David Riker, "The Girl"
John Magary, "Blood Abundance, Or the Half-Life Of Antoinette"
Qurata Kenji, "Speed Girl"
Yukiko Mishima, "When Nobody Calls Your Name"
Season Noda (niga oolong), "Limbo Mambo"
Editing by Jill Serjeant