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Breakthrough Directors

RODNEY EVANS
FILM: “Brother to Brother,” about an elderly black writer, Bruce Nugent, who reminisces about his Harlem Renaissance heyday and helps a young, gay artist find his voice.
STYLE: Pic draws inspiration from the history of African-American and gay artists. Evans’ doc background inspires reality-based projects.
BACKSTORY: Fine arts bachelor degree in modern culture and media/film production from Brown U.; MFA in film production from CalArts. He served as an assistant editor for Tom Gilroy and Harmony Korine. His short docs include “Teletouch Drive,” “Two Encounters” and “Close to Home”; prior feature: exotic dancer doc “The Unveiling”
KUDOS: Special Jury Prize, Sundance; Gordon Parks Award for Screenwriting, IFP/New York; Grand Jury Prize, Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival; Audience Award, Frameline; Audience Award, Grand Jury Prize and actor kudo (Roger Robinson), Outfest; Showtime Vanguard Award, NewFest
UP NEXT: Evans is optioning an Off Broadway play, and he’s researching/writing an historical jazz story based on two real musicians.

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DEBRA GRANIK
FILM: “Down to the Bone,” an artful yet realistic story of a young mother trying to beat a cocaine habit
STYLE: Note-perfect characterization based on observing situations and experiences in everyday life, Granik says. “Down the the Bone” was developed from years of research with a “life model.”
BACKSTORY: BS in political science from Brandeis U.; MFA, NYU graduate film program (thesis short “Side by Side” won school’s Wasserman Award). Student film “Snake Feed” won shorts prize at Sundance in 1998 and screened at New Directors/New Films. Short was the inspiration for “Down to the Bone,” developed at Sundance labs.
KUDOS: Drama director and actress (Vera Farmiga) prizes, Sundance; Fipresci prize, Viennale; Grand Jury Prize, Florida Film Festival; Maverick Award, Woodstock Film Festival; screenplay, Nantucket Film Festival
UP NEXT: Granik is working on a script about a group of Brooklyn men in their 20s facing crossroads in their lives (casting in late spring; Anne Rosellini will produce). Another film in the early writing stages is about a Mexican family in a border town.

NICOLE KASSELL
FILM: “The Woodsman,” a moody psychological drama about a pedophile (Kevin Bacon) who gets out of prison and struggles to rebuild his life.
STYLE: Kassell says she likes realistic, character-driven stories that leave you with something to think about.
BACKSTORY: BA in art history/photography, Columbia U.; MFA from NYU’s graduate film program. Her short “Jaime” won the 1999 DGA female student filmmaker award; short docu “Cornelius” aired on IFC; thesis film “The Green Hour” won the Warner Bros. Pictures Film Production Award and played in competition at Sundance in 2002.
KUDOS: First prize, 2001 Slamdance Screenplay Competition (with co-writer Steven Fechter); Jury Special Prize, Deauville; Satyajit Ray Award, London Film Festival; music composition and CACAE kudos, Cannes; special mention for acting (Bacon), Flanders Film Festival
UP NEXT: Adapting Arthur Miller’s play “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan” for a film with Michael Douglas attached to star and produce (with Mark Canton).

JOSHUA MARSTON
FILM: “Maria Full of Grace,” an unsentimental portrait of a 17-year-old Colombian girl who becomes a drug mule.
STYLE: Marston sees filmmaking as anthropology, giving him “opportunity to go out into the world and have conversations with people I would never otherwise have an excuse to talk to.”
BACKSTORY: BA in social sciences, Berkeley; MA in political science, Chicago U.; MFA, NYU graduate film program. His shorts include “Trifecta,” nominated for a Student Academy Award; “Bus to Queens,” which won prizes at the Mill Valley, Canyonlands and Nashville fests; and “Voice of an Angel,” which screened at fests including Telluride, Nantucket, Mill Valley. Marston also worked as a photographer and film editor. He developed “Maria” at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.
KUDOS: Audience Award, Sundance; Alfred Bauer Award and actress Silver Bear (Catalina Sandino Moreno), Berlin; Audience Award, Grand Special Prize, Critics Award, Deauville Film Festival; Golden Space Needle Award for actress, Seattle Intl. Film Festival; Audience Award, Los Angeles Film Festival
UP NEXT: He’s writing a script for a drama set in Tennessee that he hopes to shoot in 2005.

LORI SILVERBUSH & MICHAEL SKOLNIK
FILM: “On the Outs,” a documentary-style portrait of three girls who meet in a juvenile detention center
STYLE: Both are drawn to socially conscious themes and stories about young people. Silverbush says she’s sensitive to nuances in dialogue and small details. Docu vet Skolnik says he favors truth and honesty in his work.
BACKSTORY:
Silverbush: BS in Communications, Cornell U.; MA in cinema studies, NYU. She attended the Directing Workshop for Women at AFI. Her short “Sticks & Stones” was an honoree at Taos Talking Pictures and another short, “Mental Hygiene,” won prizes at the Newport Beach and Deauville fests
Skolnik: BA in theater, UCLA; co-directed basketball documentary “Hooked: The Legend of Demetrium,” which won prizes at the Rhode Island Film Festival and San Francisco Black Film Festival. He directed “Rock Wars,” about Russell Simmons’ fight against Rockefeller Drug Laws, and Cuban baseball doc “La esquina caliente,” which won a Special Jury Prize at Havana Film Festival. Skolnik also has various producing credits on films including “Heir to an Execution,” “Back in the Hood: Gang War II” and “Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop.”
UP NEXT:
Silverbush is adapting Alice Hoffman’s “Illumination Night” for Evan Rachel Wood to star. She’s also developing other projects.
Skolnik is shooting a documentary about Wyclef Jean’s planning of a peace concert in Haiti (co-directed and co-produced with Rebecca Chaiklin). He is also set to helm “War Eagle,” a fiction film, written by Graham Gordy, about two disabled best friends in a small Arkansas town. Pre-production is anticipated to start in June for a September shoot.

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