The 2008 Sundance Film Festival winners were announced on Saturday (Jan. 26) at a closing night awards ceremony hosted by William H. Macy in Park City, Utah. One student and five alumni from New York University Tisch School of the Arts and its Kanbar Institute of Film & Television were among the winners.

The Tisch School and its Kanbar Institute marked their 15th year at the Sundance Film Festival, and celebrated a record-tying number of films with an NYU affiliation in the Festival-57-with a record-breaking number of NYU alumni, students, and faculty attached. In all there were some 170 NYU alumni, students, and faculty-representing directors, producers, screenwriters, actors, cinematographers, and editors, among others. Of the more than 200 films screened at 2008 Sundance, 17 were directed by alumni.

The NYU winners and their films at 2008 Sundance are:

AMERICAN TEEN - Directing Award: Documentary, directed by Nanette Burstein ‘94 & ‘04 director, screenwriter, producer. The film is an irreverent cinema vérité which chronicles four seniors at an Indiana high school and yields a surprising snapshot of Midwestern life.

SLEEP DEALER - Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for outstanding achievement in writing - co-written by David Riker ‘96. The film is set in a near-future, militarized world marked by closed borders, virtual labor and a global digital network that joins minds and experiences, three strangers risk their lives to connect with each other and break the barriers of technology.

ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED - Documentary Editing Award - presented to Joe Bini ‘86. The documentary examines the public scandal and private tragedy which led to legendary director Roman Polanski’s sudden flight from the United States.

CHOKE - Special Jury Prize: Dramatic, Work by an Ensemble Cast - Clark Gregg ‘86 director, screenwriter and cast. Executive producer Mike S. Ryan ‘92; cast members Heather Burns ‘96, Allison Karman ‘05, Jordan Lage ‘86, and Erin Anne Williams ‘03; dolly grip Melissa Guimaraes ‘00; production coordinator Joshua Huffman ‘04; and assistant to executive producers AliciaVan Couvering ‘05. An adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, the film tells the sardonic story about mother and son relationship, fear of aging, sexual addiction, and the dark side of historical theme parks.

SIKUMI (On the Ice) - Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking - directed and written by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, MFA student. Director of photography Cary Fukunaga, MFA student; sound recordist Rob Meyer ‘07; assistant director James Rogan, MFA student; 2nd assistant camera Nicolas Calzada MFA student; 2nd unit cinematographer Danny Vecchione, MFA student; script supervisor Natacha Feola, MFA student; and composer Andres Martinez, MFA student.

AQUARIUM - Honorable Mention in Short Filmmaking - directed, written, and edited by Rob Meyer ‘07. Assistant director Craig Johnson MFA student; cinematographer Rob Hauer ‘04; sound Andrew MacLean, MFA student; boom operator Tom Perry, MFA student; with grips/electrics Nick Calzada, Stephen Dypiangco, Mark Heyman, and Joe Singer, who are all MFA students.

Other winning films with NYU alumni attached as producer, cinematographer, sound recordist, production assistant, script supervisor, designer, art director, among others are:

FROZEN RIVER - Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic - with assistant producer & cast Craig Shilowich ‘06; with cinematographer Reed Morano ‘00, sound recordist Micah Bloomberg ‘04, script supervisor Andrew Cesana ‘02, and production designer Inbal Weinberg ‘03.

THE WACKNESS - Audience Award: Dramatic - with cast members: Nicole Berger ‘99, Sean Dillon ‘03, and Natalie R. Ridley ‘99; cinematographer Petra Korner ‘99; art director Beth Kuhn ‘77; stage rigging/gaffer Eric Boncher ‘95; best boy electric John Coots ‘01; second assistant camera “a” Milly Itzhak ‘99; production assistant Ryan David Kohler ‘06; steadicam operator Aaron Medick ‘97; and assistant sound Joe Origlieri ‘06; and best boy/rigging/electrician Michele SchianodiCola ‘06

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. Approximately 150 graduate and 1,050 undergraduate film students pursue degrees in film and television production, photography, cinema studies, dramatic writing, and interactive telecommunications.

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Richard Pierce
Richard Pierce
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