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NYU’s 69th Annual First Run Film Festival Winners Announced

April 5, 2011

Seven Winning Films Share $61,000 in Cash Awards

Winner and Finalist Films to Be Screened at DGA in Hollywood, June 23

Last night, the winners of New York University’s 69th annual First Run Film Festival, which premieres the work of some of the country’s top student films from the Tisch School of the Arts’ Kanbar Institute of Film and Television in New York and Tisch Asia School of the Arts in Singapore, were announced at a ceremony and screening at the Regal Union Square Theatre in New York City.  The event was presided over by Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of the Tisch School of the Arts.  Announcing the winners of the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation Awards for Excellence in Filmmaking was filmmaker, Academy-Award nominee, and alumna Debra Granik (’01). 

 The winners from the Kanbar Institute are: 1st prize ($10,000)—Zelmira Gainza (Graduate) for The Pool and Alexander Smolowe (Undergraduate) for Borderland; 2nd prize ($7,000)—Pamela Romanowsky (Graduate) for Gravity and Patrick Ng (Undergraduate) for Real Talk; and 3rd prize ($5,000)—Levi Abrino (Graduate) for Little Horses and Jeremy Reitz (Undergraduate) for Baby Ruth.

In addition, the winners of the King Award for Screenwriting ($3,000) are: Zelmira Gainza (Graduate) for The Pool and Alexander Smolowe (Undergraduate) for Borderland.  The winners of the Wasserman Award for Directing ($2,000) are: Zelmira Gainza (Graduate) for The Pool and Alexander Smolowe (Undergraduate) for Borderland.

The Tisch Asia Graduate winner ($7,000) is Jordan Schiele for Ten Years from Now.

The winners join past First Run award recipients Spike Lee, Ang Lee, and Nancy Savoca, among many others.  A panel of industry professionals selected the winning films from a group of 14 finalists.  The winners and finalists will have their films screened at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) in Hollywood on June 23.

The 2011 First Run Festival Kanbar Institute Undergraduate finalists and their films are: Benjamin Halstead for Picture Perfect, Christopher Jarvis for The Bird Upstairs, Patrick Ng for Real Talk, Jeremy Reitz for Baby Ruth, Alexander Smolowe for Borderland, and Anu Valia for Figs.

The 2011 First Run Festival Kanbar Institute Graduate finalists and their films are: Levi Abrino for Little Horses, Zelmira Gainza for The Pool, Prithi Gowda for Televisnu, Saba Riazi for The Wind is Blowing on My Street, and Pamela Romanowsky for Gravity.

The 2011 First Run Festival Tisch Asia Graduate finalists and their films are: Nathanael Carton for Suu and Uchikawa, Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour for The First Time, and Jordan Schiele for Ten Years from Now.

First Run Festival 2011 (Mar. 24 through Apr. 3) comprised two weeks of public screenings of 128 advanced films, videos, multimedia, and animation projects.  Underwriting support for the Festival was provided by the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation.  The Wasserman Awards Ceremony is named in honor of the late Lew Wasserman and his wife, Edie, generous benefactors of the Tisch School of the Arts.  Tisch Asia underwrote the Tisch Asia Graduate Film Award.

The Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts provides an intensive and professional education in filmmaking.  The program shared first place in recent U.S. News and World Report rankings of the nation’s film programs; since 1992, sixteen Student Academy Award gold medals have been presented to NYU student filmmakers by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.  At the 2011 Academy Awards, alumnus Luke Matheny won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short with his thesis film, “God of Love.”  At the 2005 and 2006 Sundance Film Festivals, Kanbar filmmakers walked away with 10 prizes. Approximately 150 graduate and 1,050 undergraduate film students pursue degrees in film and television production, photography, cinema studies, dramatic writing, and interactive telecommunications.  Distinguished alumni of the Kanbar Institute include Joel Coen, Chris Columbus, Billy Crystal, Martha Coolidge, Ernest Dickerson, Amy Heckerling, Jim Jarmusch, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Brett Ratner, Nancy Savoca, Martin Scorsese, Susan Seidelman, and Oliver Stone, among many others.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Tisch School of the Arts

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Richard Pierce | (212) 998-6796

NYU’s 69th Annual First Run Film Festival Winners Announced

Alumna and Academy Award nominee Debra Granik (’01) presented the King Awards (left): Graduate King Award winners: (l-r) Levi Abrino, Zelmira Gainza, Pamela Romanowsky


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