Two Recent Graduates Share $175,000 to Make First Feature Film

The Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at New York University has announced the winners of the 2005 Richard Vague Film Production Fund awards for alumni filmmaking. The awards-$100,000 for 1st place and $75,000 for 2nd place-go to two recent graduates to make their first feature-length films.

The winners are:

  • 1st place-Seith Mann, ‘02 Graduate Division alumnus, for Come Sunday, a story about Red Wallace, a controversial, wildly charismatic preacher, his quietly rebellious son, and the Black Baptist church that becomes their battle ground.
  • 2nd place-Jessica Manafort, ‘04 Undergraduate Division alumna, for The Beautiful Ordinary, a glimpse into the teenage wasteland of suburbia 1999 that takes place over 24-hours, and the teenagers who make their way through the last day of high school in the last year of the past millennium.

In addition, 16 finalists will each receive $1,000. The 2005 Richard Vague Film Production Fund finalists are: Elan Bogarin, UGD ‘04, The Things We Carry; Pete Chatmon, UGD ‘99, Premium; David Connelly, UGD ‘01, Education In Reverse; Liat Dahan, UGD ‘01, Persian Brides; Sarba Das, GD ‘02, Mausi; Jessica Chen Drammeh, UGD ‘00, Anomaly; Vivien Dybal, GD ‘00, Undercurrent; Ryan Fleck, UGD ‘99, Half Nelson; Seth Grossman, GD ‘04, Kingdom Of Silence; Stacey Holman, GD ‘98, Dressed Like Kings; John Krokidas, GD ‘01, Slo-Mo; Joseph Leonard, UGD ‘02, How I Got Lost; Mitch McCabe, GD ‘04, My Mothers Beauty Cream; Ekwa Msangi, UGD ‘02, Leaving Langa; Duncan Skiles, UGD ‘03, The Order Of Light; and Ben Tomlin, GD ‘99, All Saints.

“This really was a breakthrough year for the awards,” said Richard Vague, benefactor and CEO of Juniper Bank. “The high level of sophistication in the presentations combined with the excellence of the scripts made it extremely difficult for the selection committee to choose just two projects. Moreover, I was personally impressed with the amount of fundraising that many of the directors have already done on their submissions this year. It remains a privilege to be a part of such an exciting and important program for emerging filmmakers.”

“We can’t thank Richard Vague enough for his continued generosity toward this pioneering initiative,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of the Tisch School of the Arts and associate provost for the arts at NYU. “Support of this kind is extremely rare for an emerging filmmaker but yet crucial as an important early step in building a career. The award, named in his honor, stands as a wonderful testament to Richard’s vision as well to his faith in the future of young artists.” The Richard Vague Film Production Fund, established in 1999, is the first and largest financial assistance award for feature-filmmaking by alumni at a major film school. This year’s winners and finalists were selected from 60 entries submitted by graduate and undergraduate alumni of the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at NYU.

To be eligible, the 2005 applicants must have graduated between 1999 and 2004 and have demonstrated exceptional talent and ability in film production. In addition, each must have a feature screenplay and demonstrate their ability to complete the project. Required supporting materials included a feature screenplay or documentary outline, comprehensive budget, production schedule, and preliminary cast and crew list.

Applicants for the 2006 Richard Vague Film Production Fund awards will be available beginning in September. For further information, or to receive an application, contact Patti Pearson, Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts, at 212-998-1713; or email

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, fifteen Student Academy Award gold medals have been presented to NYU student filmmakers by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. At the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, Kanbar Institute students and alumni walked away with an unprecedented seven awards in virtually every top-prize category. And at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival Kanbar Institute graduates and faculty won nine out of the 19 awards. 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.

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Richard Pierce
Richard Pierce
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