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2008 Sundance/nhk International Filmmaker Award Winners Announced

New Projects from Europe, Latin America, the United States and Japan Selected

Los Angeles, CA – Sundance Institute and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) today announced the winners of the 2008 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards. The four winners were selected from among 12 finalists by members of an international jury which included: Gregg Araki, Jeremy Pikser, Erin Cressida Wilson, Martin Rejtman, Andrucha Waddington, Shekhar Kapur, and Anand Tucker.

These annual awards were created in 1996 to honor and support visionary film directors from four global regions (Europe, Latin America, the United States, and Japan) in realizing their next projects. The four winners are presented with the award at the annual Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony on Saturday, January 26.

The winning director from each region will receive a $10,000 award and a guarantee from NHK to purchase the Japanese television broadcast rights upon completion of their project. NHK is Japan’s largest broadcaster with five 24-hour TV and three radio channels. In addition, the Sundance Institute staff will work closely with the award recipients throughout the year, providing ongoing support and assistance in seeking out opportunities to finance and distribute their projects.

The winning filmmakers and projects are: Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, HUACHO from Chile; Braden King, HERE from the United States; Aiko Nagatsu, APOPTOSIS from Japan; and Radu Jude, THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD from Romania.

“We are thrilled by the quality and vision of this year’s winning filmmakers, all of whom embody what the award is about. In an extremely competitive year, these projects stood out as truly original,” said Alesia Weston, Associate Director of the Feature Film Program, International.

“The Sundance/ NHK award is part of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program’s year-round commitment to support singular voices in world cinema,” said Michelle Satter, Director, Sundance Institute Feature Film Program. “We expect that the creativity and unique storytelling of this year’s four winners will resonate far beyond their countries of origin.”

Past recipients of the award include: Andrucha Waddington, THE HOUSE OF SAND (Brazil); Miranda July, ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (USA); Lucrecia Martel, LA CIENAGA (Argentina); Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, WHISKY (Uruguay); Walter Salles, CENTRAL STATION (Brazil); Chris Eyre, SMOKE SIGNALS (USA); Gyorgy Palfi, TAXIDERMIA (Hungary) and Catalin Mitulescu, THE WAY I SPENT THE END OF THE WORLD (Romania). Recent winners include: Lucia Cedron, LAMB OF GOD (Argentina), the opening night film at the 2008 International Film Festival Rotterdam; Fernando Eimbcke, LAKE TAHOE (Mexico) premiering in competition at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival; and Alex Rivera (USA) will premiere his film SLEEP DEALER in competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

The Winners of the 2008 Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award are:

Alejandro Fernández Almendras / HUACHO (Chile) – Set in the Chilean countryside, HUACHO presents a day in the life of a small rural family struggling to adjust to changing economic realities and a modern world that continues to move on without them.

Alejandro Fernandez Almendras was born in Chillan, Chile, in 1971. He has worked as a journalist, photographer and film critic, and has lived in Chile and New York. He has directed several short films, including LO QUE TRAE LA LLUVIA (2007), which screened at the Berlin Film Festival and was awarded the Casa de Americas prize in the Version Espanola short film competition; and DESDE LEJOS (2006), which won best short film at the Santiago International Film Festival , and best regional work at the Valdivia Film Festival. Almendras is a 2007 Artists’ Fellowship recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).

Radu Jude / THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (Romania) – When working class teenager Delia wins a luxury car in a promotional campaign, she and her parents travel to Bucharest to shoot a commercial in which she must thank the sponsoring company for the car. As the shoot wears on, the car slowly becomes both the object and catalyst of an absurd clash of desire, values, and will between Delia’s cash-strapped parents and her youthful self.

Radu Jude was born in Bucharest in 1977. He graduated in 2003 from the filmmaking department of Media University. He worked as an assistant director for feature films shot in Romania, such as AMEN by Costa Gavras and THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU by Cristi Puiu. He has directed several commercials and short films including THE TUBE WITH A HAT (2006), which won the Short Filmmaking Award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, the Golden Gate Award at San Francisco Film Festival, and the Best Narrative Short at Los Angeles Film Festival. THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD is his first feature film.

Tomoko Kana / TWO BY THE RIVER (Japan) – An elderly man has an increasingly hard time caring for his infirm wife until finally, with only memories of their life together to offer solace, he feels compelled to make a very difficult choice.

Formally a producer at NHK, Tomoko Kana has become a crusading filmmaker whose travels in Southeast Asia inspired MARDIYEM (2001) a documentary about Indonesian “comfort women” who had been forced into prostitution by Japanese troops. Later, during a trip to China, she was inspired to make NIGAI NAMIDA NO DAICHI KARA (FROM THE LAND OF BITTER TEARS) (2004) which chronicles the plight of Chinese victims still affected by old, discarded Japanese ordnance. BITTER TEARS was awarded a Rookie Award from the Japanese Congress of Journalists.

Braden King / HERE (USA) – Measurement and orientation break down in an intensely visual, landscape-obsessed road movie that chronicles the relationship between an American mapmaker and a foreign art photographer who impulsively decide to travel together into deeply uncharted territory.

Braden King co-directed the lyric Aleutian Island documentary, DUTCH HARBOR: WHERE THE SEA BREAKS ITS BACK, which had extensive festival screenings and a theatrical release. King has directed music videos and short films for artists including Sonic Youth, Will Oldham, Chan Marshall (Cat Power), Sparklehorse and Yo La Tengo. Recent nonnarrative work includes HEAVEN IS A PLACE / NOTHING EVER HAPPENS, a film/video installation commissioned by Chris Doyle for the 50,000 BEDS exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum; and [THE STORY IS STILL ASLEEP], a multi-channel film, video and live music event that will premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. His screenplay, HERE (co-written with Dani Valent), has received grants and awards from the Creative Capital, Alfred P. Sloan and Annenberg Foundations.

NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) is Japan’s largest broadcaster. Since 1925, it has continued to offer fair impartial reporting and high quality programs, earning the viewers’ trust as the nation’s sole public broadcaster. Through its five 24-hour TV channels (two terrestrial/three satellite) and three radio channels, NHK provides programs of all genres from news and education to sports and entertainment, and serves as the hub of Japanese visual culture. NHK’S arts and entertainment satellite channel, which was introduced in 1989, broadcasts more than 600 high quality international films each year. In order to contribute to the development of film culture and the promotion of cultural exchange, NHK is devoted to supporting burgeoning filmmakers who have the potential to guide the industry’s future development. Along with the “Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award,” NHK also produces the “Asian Film Festival” which offers opportunities to emerging film directors in Asia.