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2018 Sundance Film Festival

Us Filmmaker Award Finalists


Braden King / HERE – 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 non-narrative 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.

Jake Mahaffy / FREE IN DEED - A desperate man’s attempt at deliverance while trying to perform a miracle fails and results in the death of a young boy. Recently released from prison, the man returns to the same small town where now his own child has fallen ill.

Jake Mahaffy was born and raised in Ohio, studied filmmaking at the Russian State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow and co-founded the Handcranked Film Projects collaborative in Boston. Mahaffy’s short films and feature film, WAR (2004), have screened in festivals and competitions including Sundance, Rotterdam, Edinburgh, Stockholm, Cinematexas, Ann Arbor and the Student Academy Awards. His screenplay, FREE IN DEED has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Creative Capital Grant, the Sundance Institute’s Lynn Auerbach Screenwriting Fellowship, and an Annenberg Film Fellowship. FREE IN DEED was developed at the 2006 Sundance Institute Filmmaker Lab.

James Ponsoldt / REFRESH, REFRESH - Three boys in the high desert of central Oregon battle heartbreak and explore the redemptive power of violence when their Marine reservist fathers are called to duty in Iraq.

James Ponsoldt was born and raised in Athens, Georgia, received a BA in English from Yale, and an MFA in directing from Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program. Ponsoldt’s short films and debut feature, OFF THE BLACK (theatrically distributed by THINKFilm), have played at more than 100 festivals worldwide, including Sundance, Tribeca, Stockholm, Clermont-Ferrand, Seattle, Cork, Edinburgh, and Hamptons. His screenplay, REFRESH, REFRESH, was developed at the 2007 Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab and received the Lynn Auerbach Screenwriting Fellowship.


Akira Ichinose / LAMPLIGHT AND SHADOWS - A young pregnant woman storms into a store run by an old man and ask s for his son, whom she claims is the father of her baby. An awkward and fragile relationship develops between the young woman and the old man.

Akira Ichinose was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. He holds an undergraduate degree in art theory from Doshisha University, and a Master of Fine Arts from Nihon University. His graduation work, A RED BRIDGE, was screened in many festivals including 34th International Student Film Festival Potsdam, and 35th Molodist Kyev International Film Festival. A RED BRIDGE also gained favorable attentions at Yokohama 2005 International Triennale of Contemporary Art. His latest work CAN YOU HEAR participated in Cannes Film Market and HDFEST.

Yukihiko Goto / THREE COLD DAYS AND FOUR WARM DAYS – Masayuki, an old Japanese fisherman, stands amidst the snowy hinterland of northeast China, bearing an urn containing the ashes of his late young wife, Lei. Returning to Lei’s village, Masayuki is reminded of the passage of time and longs for what was lost.

Yukihiko Goto was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. He started making shorts films while attending Osaka University of Foreign Studies completing a major in Chinese. In 2007, he graduated from the Beijing Film Academy with a Masters Degree in Directing. During his studies, he took countless trips to northeast China to research this current project. His graduation film FIRECRACKER is showing at The International Film & Video Festival of Beijing Film Academy, and various festivals throughout Japan.

Aiko Nagatsu / APOPTOSIS – A young woman suddenly loses her job at a publishing company in Tokyo, which is followed by the loss of her apartment, lover, friends and family. She gradually learns to accept her fate, and starts to understand that some things are never lost.

Aiko Nagatsu was deeply involved in the performing arts as she studied drama throughout junior high and high school. At the age of 20, she entered an animation- production company in Tokyo, where she learned two different styles of animation: Disney animation and so-called “Japanimation.” She worked in various capacities for many animated films including MULAN 2, PHOO’S HEFFALUMP MOVIE, and FLAG. At the age of 25, she left the company to start her own filmmaking career. APOPTOSIS is her first feature film project.

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