You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NYU’s Tisch: Devoted to the indie ‘Dance

NYU Tisch: 20 Years at Sundance

When NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts decided to sponsor the Sundance Film Festival 20 years ago, it was just a few years after the debut of “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” and indie film was exploding.

Dean Mary Schmidt Campbell, appointed to the post in 1991, deduced that the two groups would be a natural match. Two decades later, the relationship is still going strong.

“Our missions are closely aligned,” says John Tintori, chair of Tisch’s graduate film program. “We’re always looking for interesting people who are natural storytellers so we can teach them how to make films. That’s what Sundance supports too — new storytellers, new voices.”

“In an era where big studios are moving toward mass market film, it’s important for us who are championing singular distinctive voices to support each other,” says Joe Pichirallo, chair of undergraduate film and television at Tisch. “Sundance is an approved and accepted place for talent to be discovered.”

Tisch provides financial support for the festival and holds a party for industry insiders and student/alumni filmmakers as well as a private dinner. So many students plan to go to the festival, either with or without projects, that Tintori says they’re starting their winter semester a week late. “It’s really hard for us to run classes otherwise, because so many students are at the festival,” he says.

Indie filmmakers who have bridged their studies at NYU with Sundance include “Jane Eyre” director Cary Fukunaga, “Pariah” helmer Dee Rees and “Winter’s Bone” director Debra Granick. As they learned, a strong NYU connection can lead to attention, and often success, through Sundance.

Last year, writer Christopher Ford brought “Robot & Frank” to Sundance with director Jake Schreier, a fellow alum. The film, an expansion of a short Ford wrote at Tisch, won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the festival.

“I learned through making tons of mistakes on my short,” Ford says today. “Years later, a little wiser, we pulled off the feature version and I found myself at Sundance. When I looked around, I saw a lot of my classmates from NYU.”

The relationship benefits both sides: Sundance is guaranteed an influx of trained, independent-thinking, hungry newcomers while Tisch burnishes its image by turning out filmmakers who land development deals, get distribution and establish long-term, award-winning careers.

This year, four of the films in competition are written or directed by Tisch alums, including “Kill Your Darlings,” “Mother of George” and “Dirty Wars.” The school says that one in three films at the festival this year involve Tisch alums or students behind or before the cameras.

“They encourage the independent spirit and vision with students,” says Michelle Satter, founding director of the feature films program at Sundance. “Tisch’s program has been a great source of filmmakers that we’ve supported over the years in their first features.”

Satter says the industry also benefits from the relationship. “We look to the next generation of independent filmmakers to seed the industry moving forward,” she says. “These are exciting new voices that will be entering the marketplace.”

NYU alums pay tribute to Tisch

More Scene

  • Ron HowardBreakthrough Prize, Arrivals, NASA Ames

    Ron Howard Talks New Luciano Pavarotti Documentary

    If one is an anomaly, two are a coincidence and three are a trend, then Ron Howard might strictly become a music documentarian after “Pavarotti” hits theaters. The documentary about the world-famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti comes on the heels of Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” and “Made in America,” a look at [...]

  • Cara Delevingne poses for photographers upon

    Cara Delevingne to Be Honored With Hero Award at Trevor Project New York Gala

    The Trevor Project will honor Cara Delevingne with the Hero Award at its upcoming TrevorLIVE New York gala. Delevingne has supported The Trevor Project‘s efforts to end LGBTQ youth suicide rates, in addition to using her platform to speak out about mental health issues, women’s rights and animal conservation. On screen, she has acted in [...]

  • Kristen Stewart'JT LeRoy' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Kristen Stewart: 'Charlie's Angels' Reboot Is 'Woke' but Still 'Funny and Weird'

    “Charlie’s Angels” has made the jump to 2019. Kristen Stewart, who stars in the Elizabeth Banks-directed reboot as one of the Angels, says the classic ’70s franchise has been updated to modern times without losing its pulpy action. “At one point I think we said it was woke and grounded, and everyone was like, ‘Wait, [...]

  • Robert De Niro

    Robert De Niro Slams Trump Administration at Tribeca Opening Night

    The 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival opened with Roger Ross Williams’ documentary “The Apollo” at the iconic uptown venue which performers and Harlem community members call “home.” “You can feel the history, the echo of the entertainers,” Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Robert De Niro said in a speech before the film. “In this administration, during [...]

  • Lilli Cooper Tootsie

    How the 'Tootsie' Musical Was Updated for the #MeToo Era

    Turning the beloved 1982 comedy “Tootsie” into a 21st century musical already seemed like a challenge when work on the adaptation began back in 2016. Then the #MeToo movement revved up — and the writers knew they couldn’t tell Dorothy’s story for a modern audience without it. “It’s different than it was when the movie [...]

  • Ralph Fiennes attends a special screening

    Ralph Fiennes on Directing Rudolf Nureyev Biopic: 'It's Been a Very, Very Long Road'

    Ralph Fiennes celebrated his latest directorial outing, “The White Crow,” on Monday night in New York City. The Sony Pictures Classics film tells the story of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. “It’s been a very, very long road. We were mad. We were mad to take on this subject of Rudolf Nureyev. Mad. Completely mad,” Fiennes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content