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NYU’s Kanbar Institute Announces the Winners of 2011 Chris Columbus and Richard Vague Film Production Fund Award

October 13, 2011

Three Winners Share $225,000 to Make a First Feature Film

The Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts has announced the winners of the 2011 Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund award for filmmaking.  The Production Fund supports annual awards to recent alumni and thesis students of the Kanbar Institute’s Graduate and Undergraduate divisions to direct their first feature film, either narrative or documentary. Due to the excellence of the submissions this year the selection panel decided to give awards to three filmmakers.

The 2011 Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund winners and their projects are:

Nicholas Brennan (Undergraduate) - $25,000 for Hard Rock Havana, a documentary about Cuba's most popular heavy metal band, Zeus. After 20 years of fighting against a society that once threw these tattooed metalheads in jail, they now play sold out shows in front of thousands of dedicated fans in downtown Havana.

Alexandra Gordon (Graduate) - $100,000 for It Had to be You, which tells the story of New York jingle writer Sonia, who is shocked by a surprise marriage proposal from her easygoing, sweet boyfriend Chris, and revisits the ups and downs of their relationship while embarking on her own bumpy journey of self-discovery.

Chloe Zhao (Graduate) - $100,000 for Lee, a story about a quiet and daring Lakota boy who takes on a dangerous job in order to keep his family together on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

“The 2011 Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund awards marked another year of outstanding submissions,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of the Tisch School of the Arts.  “The generosity of Richard Vague and Chris Columbus’s (’80) has had a transformative impact on our young filmmakers and has launched countless filmmaking careers.  We are enormously grateful for their support.”

The 2011 Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund finalist from Graduate Film are: Dara Bratt – Resonance, Sara Colangelo Little Accidents, Alexandra Gordon – It Had To Be You, Shaka King – Newlyweeds, and Chloe Zhao – Lee.

  The 2011 Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund finalists from Undergraduate Film & TV are: Nicholas Brennan – Hard Rock Havana, James Darling – Entanglement, Elaine Liu – A Long Way Home, Emma Lundberg – Directions, and Kristina Woo – Movers and Shakers

The Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund was established in 1999.  To be eligible, the 2011 applicants must have graduated or have been matriculated thesis students between 2005 and 2011 and have demonstrated exceptional talent and ability in film production.  In addition, each must have a feature screenplay and demonstrate his or her ability to complete the project.  Required supporting materials included a feature screenplay or documentary outline, comprehensive budget, production schedule, and preliminary cast and crew lists.

The Graduate Film and Undergraduate Film & TV divisions of the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts provides an intensive and professional education in filmmaking.  Some noteworthy achievements include: Sharing first place in recent U.S. News and World Report rankings of the nation’s film programs; since 1992, seventeen Student Academy Award gold medals have been presented to NYU student filmmakers by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences—most  recently, in 2010 when Luke Matheny won for his thesis film “God of Love.”  At the Sundance Film Festival, the premiere showcase for independent film, Kanbar is consistently represented among the approximately 200 films screened every year, but noteworthy are:  2005 and 2006 when alumni films took home nine prizes, 2009 when thesis student Cary Fukunaga won a Directing Award and the Excellence in Cinematography Award, and 2010 when alumna Debra Granik won a Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.  In 2010, alumni Geoffey Fletcher (Adapted Screenplay for “Precious”) and Juan José Campanella (Best Foreign Language Film for “El Secreto de Sus Ojos”) won Oscars.  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 Kanbar Institute Announces the Winners of 2011 Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund Award

The 2011 Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund winners: (left to right) Chloe Zhao, Alexandra Gordon, and Nicholas Brennan.


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