Fri. Feb. 26

Slamdance Announces 2021 Winners

Slamdance announced its 2021 winners during a virtual ceremony, with “Taipei Suicide Story,” directed by KEFF, receiving the Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize, Audience and Acting Awards. The first Unstoppable Grand Jury Award, presented by Hulu, was awarded to director Jocelyn Tamayao of the short film, “The Bin.”

Slamdance alumni Joe and Anthony Russo presented the $25,000 AGBO Fellowship prize to Agnieszka Polska, director of “Hurrah, We Are Still Alive!” The prize is prize is designed to enable a deserving filmmaker the opportunity to continue their creative journey with mentorship from the Russos, as well as development support from their studio.

“She’s a wonderful visionary artist from Poland who has shown incredible expression in her art and we look forward to working with her as she moves into a film medium,” said Angela Russo-Otstot, AGBO president of creative, of Polska.

The festival — which is celebrating it’s most accessible and popular year ever — also announced its “Best of Fest” weekend screenings, running Feb. 26-28. Virtual passes for the extended weekend are available at Slamdance.com now for $10.

“We congratulate the winners of Slamdance 2021 and everyone of our filmmakers who together attracted a record breaking festival audience for their brilliant independent work”, said Peter Baxter, Slamdance president and co-founder. “Many people experienced Slamdance for the first time including over seventeen thousand passholders from fifty-five countries. Accessibility was essential to this endeavor and the spirit in which Slamdance’s artist-led community embraced it was awesome!”

The full list of award winners and of this year’s films, the new Unstoppable program with Hulu, Q&A’s and panels are also available on Slamdance.com, AppleTV, Roku, Firestick, as well as select programming free on Slamdance’s YouTube channel.

Common to Produce Fannie Lou Hamer Biopic, Titled “God’s Long Summer”

Oscar- and Grammy-winner Common is set to bring the life of civil rights and voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer to the screen, with “God’s Long Summer.”

“Fannie Lou Hamer is a revolutionary figure we should all know,” said Common. “Her story and impact is evidence that Black History IS American History. We have all benefited from her work and dedication. I feel blessed to be working with this incredible group of producers to bring this story to the screen.”

Common will produce the biopic with Jennifer Madeloff and Jeff Waxman of Waxylu Films and Dream Management and Entertainment, LLC., which holds the rights to Hamer’s life story, along with D. Min of Triumph, Inc. Marie Cisco, Jay Speights and Jackie Bazan of Bazan Entertainment also serve as producers.

Peter J. Meli writes the film’s screenplay, based on Hamer’s 1967 autobiography “To Praise Our Bridges” and Charles Marsh’s “God’s Long Summer,” which chronicles the key actors of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

Charles McLaurin, field secretary for SNCC’s first voter organizing efforts in the Mississippi Delta and close friend of Hamer, serves as a story consultant along with Hamer’s cousin Minister Vester Townsend Lobbins.

BAFTA Introduces New Games And Immersive Awards For 2021 GSA BAFTA Student Awards

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) will open submissions for the 2021 GSA BAFTA Student Awards on March 1, 2021 with two new awards – BAFTA Student Award for Games and BAFTA Student Award for Immersive – which will join the regular slate of awards for short films in the categories of Live Action, Documentary and Animation, as well as the Special Jury Prize.

BAFTA has confirmed that this year’s competition, including its program of events and screenings, will be entirely virtual. The virtual program for last year’s Student Awards brought students from 16 countries together for social, networking and educational events.

“While last year we were required to host our entire program virtually due to the pandemic, this year, it was a choice driven both by the pandemic and by the success of the digital program that enabled us to connect and support so many talented filmmakers from around the world,” said BAFTA Los Angeles Chair of the Board, Kathryn Busby.

“We are delighted to be able to recognize Games and Immersive content with the introduction of two new awards. As an initiative that continues to grow each year, this was a logical next step after seeing the incredible work being done by student creatives globally in the 2020 showcase,” said Matthew Wiseman, CEO of BAFTA Los Angeles.

As part of the 2021 Student Awards program, BAFTA and Global Student Accommodation (GSA) will offer its third BAFTA-GSA Short Film Commissioning Grant of USD 12,000 to a film or films on the topic of youth wellbeing.

The GSA BAFTA Student Awards celebrates and rewards the next generation of talented and innovative filmmakers from around the globe. Selection for the shortlist and finals provides access to further connections and opportunities with the British Academy via BAFTA’s New Talent programming. With past winners and nominees including Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther,” “Creed”), Sharat Raju (“Scandal,” “Fear the Walking Dead”), Clara Roquet, Annie Silverstein and Kevin Wilson Jr., the awards have created a legacy for rewarding the next big filmmakers in the industry.

Those interested in submitting projects to this year’s competition should contact baftastudents@baftala.org. The awards are free to enter and the deadline for submissions is 11:59pm BST  on Friday, April 16.

Submissions will be viewed and judged by a select panel of BAFTA representatives. A shortlist of the best submissions will be announced on May 12. The finalists in all categories will be selected on June 9. and the winners will be announced in a digital ceremony on July 16.


Thurs. Feb. 25

RLJE FILMS and Shudder Acquire North American Rights to “Seance”

RLJE Films and Shudder have acquired the North American rights to the horror film, “Seance.”

RLJE Films is planing to release the film in theaters, On Demand and Digital on May 21. Shudder will premiere the film on its platform later in the year. Shudder has also acquired U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand rights.

“Seance” stars Suki Waterhouse (“Assassination Nation” ), Madisen Beaty (“Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood”), Ella-Rae Smith (”Into the Badlands”), Inanna Sarkis (“Boo 2! A Madea Halloween”), Seamus Patterson (“Channel Zero”) and Marina Stephenson-Kerr (“Channel Zero”).

Camille Meadows (Waterhouse) is the new girl at the prestigious Edelvine Academy for Girls. Soon after her arrival, six girls invite her to join them in a late-night ritual, calling forth the spirit of a dead former student who reportedly haunts their halls. But before morning, one of the girls is dead, leaving the others wondering what they may have awakened.

“We’re so excited to finally be working with the amazingly talented writer and director of “Seance”, Simon Barrett,” said Mark Ward, Chief Acquisitions Officer at RLJE Films. “Following the ever-growing success of his previous work on “You’re Next,”we can’t wait to share “Seance” with audiences.”

“The Shudder team are big fans of Simon Barrett’s work as a screenwriter, so we leapt at the chance to be the streaming home for his directorial debut,” said Craig Engler, Shudder’s General Manager. “We know our members will be chilled and delighted by what Barrett has crafted with “Seance.”

“I’m thrilled that “Seance’ has found a home with RLJE Films and Shudder, who are at the vanguard of releasing unique and original genre films. Both companies clearly respect and understand horror fans, for whom “Seance” was made,” said Barrett.

Hot Springs Docs Film Fest Adds Greta Hagen-Richardson as Director of Programming

Greta Hagen-Richardson has been announced at the Director of Programming for The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.

Hagen-Richardson is a rising star in the film festival community. She has worked at the New Orleans Film Festival and the Oxford Film Festival and brings a decade of experience in the industry.

In 2020, she participated in Film Independent’s Project Involve as a Creative Executive Fellow. While in Project Involve, she was the CE on two shorts, “Hollow” and “Blackout,” both developed and completed during the pandemic.

Additional film festivals Hagen-Richardson has contributed to include the Chicago International Film Festival, True/False Film Fest, and the Telluride Film Festival.

Artistic Director Jennifer Gerber adds the title of Executive Director, stepping back into the void created with the recent departure of Karina Negin, who stepped away to focus on her responsibilities at Bridging Voice. That organization, based in New York, works to enable people with neurodegenerative disease to communicate with assistive technology. With the move, Gerber returns to the role she held with the film festival for the three years prior to Negin’s arrival. She is the longest-tenured staff member at HSDFF, having been with the organization for 9 years.

“Gerber said, “We could not be more thrilled with adding Greta to the team at HSDFF. She has quickly made a mark through her work at a number of prominent film festivals with a reputation for discovering new voices, cultivating new filmmakers, while having a clear focus on inclusion and diversity and we look forward to her bringing that programming vision to Hot Springs. Last year, despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival continued growing in reach and impact and innovation and so much of that was thanks to the efforts of both Karina and Jessie. Now, we look forward to our 30th Anniversary edition – and as it is with all anniversaries, HSDFF will both celebrate what we have achieved over three decades as well as look forward toward rebirth and redefinition of this wonderful film festival.”

“I am thrilled and honored to join Jen and the rest of the great team at HSDFF,” said Hagen-Richardson. It has long been one of the key documentary regional film festivals in the eyes of filmmakers, industry veterans, and journalists, and the prospect of helping steer the organization to even greater heights in its fourth decade is beyond exciting.”

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson To Be Honored by Hollywood Critics Association

Dwayne Johnson will receive an honorary award at the 4th Annual HCA Film Awards Ceremony.  The Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) announced Johnson will be the recipient of its Trailblazer Award.

“Dwayne Johnson epitomizes everything our Trailblazer Award stands for,” said HCA Chairman Scott Menzel. “He goes above and beyond on many things in the world that actually matter and uses his voice to do good in a time most needed. We at the HCA can definitely “smell what The Rock is Cookin’ and are incredibly honored to present him with this year’s award.”

The Trailblazer Award was created to highlight and celebrate actors and filmmakers who not only speak out about important topics, but are advocates for change. Johnson who is one of the most recognizable names in Hollywood, a successful entrepreneur and filmmaker and social media’s most-followed American man in the world, has been using his platform to promote important conversations.
The winners will be announced during the virtual ceremony on Friday, March 5, 2021.

Tues. Feb. 23

Gravitas Ventures Acquires U.S. Distribution Rights for ‘The Oak Room

Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, has acquired U.S. rights to distribute the Black Fawn Films thriller “The Oak Room.”

Directed by Cody Calahan, written by Peter Genoway, and produced by Chad Archibald and Ari Millen, the film stars RJ Mitte (“Breaking Bad”), Peter Outerbridge, Ari Millen, Martin Roach, Nicholas Campbell, and David Ferry.

The film follows a drifter who tries to settle an old debt with a grizzled bartender by telling him a story. The night’s events quickly spin into a dark tale of mistaken identities, double-crosses and shocking violence.

“The Oak Room” will be released in theaters and on-demand on April 2.

American Cinema Editors (ACE) Announces Date Change to April 17

The American Cinema Editors (ACE) announced today that the 71st Annual ACE Eddie Awards will be held on April 17 at 11 am PT instead of April 18.

“With numerous events occurring virtually this year, ACE is shifting to a date and time that avoids overlapping with other shows and allows the post-production community to celebrate each other’s accomplishments together. We chose a mid-morning format that will allow attendance from our global membership and supporters,” said ACE Executive Director Jenni McCormick.

As previously announced,  Spike Lee will be honored with the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award, recognizing a filmmaker who exemplifies distinguished achievement in the art and business of film. The awards ceremony will unveil winners for outstanding editing in 14 categories of film and television including this year’s newest categories: Best Edited Animated Series (Non-Theatrical) and Best Edited Variety Talk/Sketch Show or Special.

The ACE Eddie Nominations Will Be Announced March 11.

International Cinematographers Guild Names 10 honorees for Emerging Cinematographer Awards

The International Cinematographers Guild (ICG, IATSE Local 600) has named 10 honorees for the 2021 Annual Emerging Cinematographer Awards (ECA). Among those named include Austin Scott Ahlborg (“Lotus”), Andrew Aiello  (“Green Cobra”), Jason Chau (“Sting”), Jac Cheairs (“KENOBI: A Star Wars Fan Film”), Morgan Gardiner (“Molly Robber”), Eric E. Hurt (“Singularity”), Allie Schultz (“Your Monster”),  Gregor Tavenner “(Pleasant Canyon”), Michael Tedford (“The Elder Scrolls: Legends”) and Leonard P. Walsh ll (“Kingsnake”).

The ECA spotlights promising cinematographers and provides crucial exposure needed to succeed in the film and television industry.

Steven Poster, ASC, former National President of the ICG and Co-Chair of the ECA committee, said, “In this most unusual time, we made the difficult decision to postpone the Emerging Cinematographer Awards for one year. We felt that the honorees would not get the recognition they deserved during the pandemic. We are taking this opportunity, however, to announce the honorees and their short films because these talented cinematographers and directors deserve to be celebrated for the exceptional work they have created.”

Jimmy Matlosz, Co-Chair of the Guild’s ECA committee added, “Being that 2020 was a year of challenges for many families, groups and individuals, we are proud to keep the ECAs and our dedication to the art and craft of cinematography burning brightly. We look forward to honoring these talented cinematographers this year.”

The 2020 honorees will roll over to this year’s ECA event, which will be held virtually in the fall of 2021.