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Sundance Film Festival announced its Jury members

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival announced today the members of the six juries awarding prizes at the Festival, which runs January 17-27, 2008 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The juries collectively are comprised of twenty-four individuals from the global film community, each of whom brings unique perspective and range of experience. Award-winning directors, screenwriters, actors and cinematographers in the Competition categories will be announced on the evening of January 26 at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony at the Park City Racquet Club.

The six juries for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival are:

Dramatic Competition: Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Harron, Diego Luna, Sandra Oh and Quentin Tarantino; Documentary Competition: Michelle Byrd, Heidi Ewing, Eugene Jarecki, Steven Okazaki and Annie Sundberg; World Dramatic Competition: Shunji Iwai (Japan), Lucrecia Martel (Argentina) and Jan Schuette (Germany); World Documentary Competition: Amir Bar-Lev (US), Leena Pasanen (Finland/Denmark) and Ilda Santiago (Brazil); American and International Shorts: Jon Bloom, Melonie Diaz and Jason Reitman; and The Alfred P. Sloan Prize: Alan Alda, Michael Polish, Evan Schwartz, Benedict Schwegler and John Underkoffler

A press conference for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Juries will be held on Friday, January 18 at 1:00 p.m. at the Press Conference Pavilion at the Yarrow Hotel in Park City.

"This year's jurors are nothing less than visionaries whose creativity, passion and commitment embody the Festival itself, " said Geoffrey Gilmore, Director, Sundance Film Festival. “While we look to them to help bring new talent to light, many jurors have a personal connection to Sundance; for many, much of their earliest work was shown at the Festival or developed through our artistic development programs."

The competitive categories of the Sundance Film Festival have introduced audiences to some of the most intriguing independent films and filmmakers of the past 24 years. At the 2008 Festival, Grand Jury Prizes will be awarded to one U.S. dramatic film and one U.S. documentary film screening in competition. International films screening in competition are eligible for World Cinema Jury Prizes. In addition to the top jury prizes, for the first time this year, World Cinema Competition films are eligible to receive the same range of awards presented to U.S. films screening in competition, including: Directing Awards, Excellence in Cinematography Awards, and Documentary Editing Awards. The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award will be presented to a U.S. film by the Dramatic Competition Jury, with the World Cinema Dramatic Competition Jury presenting the World Cinema Screenwriting Award.

The Short Film Jury will present the Jury Prizes in Short Filmmaking to U.S. and international filmmakers as well as Honorable Mentions. Additionally, The Alfred P. Sloan Prize will be presented by its jury to acknowledge an outstanding film for the quality of its thematic presentation of science and technology. All films in Competition are eligible for the Dramatic and Documentary Audience Awards.

Dramatic Competition Jury Members:

Marcia Gay Harden – One of film, theatre and television’s uniquely original talents, Marcia Gay Harden won the Academy Award in 2001 for her portrayal of Lee Krasner in Pollock. Harden attended the Sundance Institute Directors Lab in 1991 as an actor on Alison Maclean’s project CRUSH, which went on to screen at the Sundance Film Festival in 1993. Three years later, Harden appeared in CARE OF THE SPITFIRE GRILL, directed by Lee David Zlotoff and winner of the Festival's Audience Award. In 2007 Harden appeared to wide acclaim in INTO THE WILD, directed by Sean Penn. This year Harden stars in HOME opposite her real-life daughter, Eulala Grace Scheel.

Mary Harron – Mary Harron made her debut as a feature-film writer and director in 1996 with I SHOT ANDY WARHOL. For her performance in the film, Lili Taylor received a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Harron returned to the Festival in 2000 with AMERICAN PSYCHO, which she adapted from Brett Easton Ellis's notorious bestseller. For her work on this film, she was nominated for “Director of the Year” by the London Film Critics Circle. Harron served as executive producer on directors’ Sam Green and Bill Siegel’s THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2003. Her most recent film was THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE for Picturehouse/ HBO Films and Killer Films.

Diego Luna – The 2002 Sundance Film Festival introduced Diego Luna to worldwide audiences with his starring role in the award-winning Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, in which he starred alongside life-long friend Gael Garcia Bernal for director Alfonso Cuaron. In 2006, Luna appeared at the Festival in Carlos Balado’s film SOLO DIOS SABE and returned again in 2007 with THE NIGHT BUFFALO (EL BUFALO DE LA NOCHE), directed by Jorge Hernandez Aldana Luna recently made his directorial debut this year with J.C. CHAVEZ, a documentary about the life of legendary boxer Julio Cesar Chavez .

Sandra Oh – Best known to film audiences for her break-out performance role in the feature film SIDEWAYS, Sandra Oh has received a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actor’s Guild Award and two Emmy Award nominations for her role as ‘Dr. Cristina Yang’ on the hit ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy.” Oh’s additional feature film credits include THE NIGHT LISTENER, FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION, THREE NEEDLES and THE RED VIOLIN. The versatile actress recently completed a sold-out run of the world premiere of "Satellites" at New York’s Public Theater.

Quentin Tarantino – The Academy Award-winning Quentin Tarantino has a long and illustrious relationship with the Sundance Institute, dating back to 1991 when he brought his film RESERVOIR DOGS to the Sundance Institute Directors Lab. The film went on to play to wide acclaim at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival. PULP FICTION, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, and for which Tarantino received an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, is part of the official Sundance Collection at UCLA. On January 20, Tarantino will be honored at the Festival with the 2008 Ray-Ban Visionary Award, presented by Ray-Ban and The Creative Coalition.

Documentary Competition Jury Members:

Michelle Byrd – Since 1997, Michelle Byrd has been the Executive Director of IFP, the largest membership organization in the United States dedicated to independent film. Byrd has been selected for Variety’s annual “Indie Impact List: 50 Who Made a Difference” and The Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment Power 100.” She is a Mayoral appointee to the NYC Latin Media & Entertainment Commission and the Mayor’s Diversity Task Force.

Heidi Ewing – As a co-owner of the New York-based production company, Loki Films, Heidi Ewing has taken on a wide range of subjects that includes the inner workings of Scientology, ritualistic body modification in Sri Lanka and the labyrinth that is the criminal justice system in the Bronx. Her film DISSIDENT (2003) is about the struggle of Havana-based Nobel Peace Prize nominee Oswaldo Paya. She and her directing partner Rachel Grady, co-directed the documentary THE BOYS OF BARAKA, released by ThinkFilm in 2005. She and Grady are currently working with several other directors on adapting the bestselling book Freakonomics for the big screen.

Eugene Jarecki – Director Eugene Jarecki has been associated with the Sundance Film Festival for the past 15 years. His most recent film, WHY WE FIGHT, for which Jarecki was a Sundance Documentary Fund grantee, was awarded the Festival's Documentary Grand Jury Prize in 2005 and went on to win the 2006 Peabody Award. Jarecki’s prior film, THE TRIALS OF HENRY KISSINGER, won the 2002 Amnesty International Award and was released theatrically in the U.S. and internationally to critical acclaim. His first short film, SEASON OF THE LIFTERBEES, premiered at Sundance in 1993. Jarecki is currently at work on The American Way of War, a nonfiction book slated for 2008 publication by Simon & Schuster/Free Press.

Steven Okazaki – A three-time Academy Award nominee and an Oscar winner in 1991 for DAYS OF WAITING, director Steven Okazaki looks at troubling social issues and the lives of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary historical events. His 20-year relationship with the Sundance Film Festival spans from his 1987 romantic comedy, LIVING ON TOKYO TIME ,to last year's WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN, a powerful look at the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Okazaki has produced some of television's groundbreaking documentaries including Unfinished Business (1985) and Troubled Paradise (1992) for PBS and Black Tar Heroin (1999), Rehab (2004) and The Mushroom Club (2005) for HBO Documentary Films.

Annie Sundberg – A two-time Sundance Documentary Fund grantee, Annie Sundberg co-directed and co-produced with Ricki Stern last year's THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK, a documentary that exposes the genocide raging in Darfur as seen through the eyes of a former U.S. marine. In 2006 Sundberg and co-director Stern brought to the Festival THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT, the culmination of ten years of research and filming in the racially charged case of a wrongly accused man. Sundberg also produced the independent feature TULLY (2000) and the documentaries In My Corner (1998) for PBS/POV and One Survivor Remembers (1995), a co-production of HBO and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which received both an Academy Award and Emmy Award in 1996.

World Cinema Dramatic Competition Jury Members:

Shunji Iwai – Renowned for his innovative storytelling and distinctive visual style, Shunji Iwai is a film director, video artist and writer. For his film SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY (1996), Iwai teamed with Takeshi Kobayashi, producer of the popular rock group, Mr. Children. In 1998, he released his interactive novel All About Lily Chou-Chou online as an experiment in BBS style participation. Three years later he adapted the novel into an award-winning film. His short film HANNA & ALICE was first released in 2003 online, and then as a feature film the following year. Iwai recently directed FILMFUL LIFE 2006, the story of renowned director Kon Ichikawa.

Lucrecia Martel – Widely acclaimed by the Argentine press for her documentaries and children's programs with a dark sense of humor, Lucrecia Martel has become well known in the international film arena. In 1999 Lucrecia Martel was awarded the Sundance/NHK Filmmakers Award for her first feature-film script for LA CIÉNAGA (THE SWAMP). The award, supporting new visionary artists in international cinema, was one of many for Martel and her intimate portrayal of a self-pitying Argentine bourgeois family. Among her short films is REY MUERTO (DEAD KING) (1995). LA NIÑA SANTA, produced by Lita Stantic, was screened in Official Competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

Jan Schuette – The unique vision of director Jan Schuette has garnered him numerous awards including the Premio Cinecritica and the Prix François Truffaut. Schuette made his auspicious feature-film debut in 1987 with DRACHENFUTTER (DRAGONFOOD), the story of a Pakistani immigrant struggling to survive in a multicultural German neighborhood. Schuette went on to make WINCKELMANN’S TRAVELS (which premiered at the 1990 Venice Film Festival), BYE BYE AMERICA (which premiered at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival), FAT WORLD (1998), and THE FAREWELL (2000). His latest feature, LOVE COMES LATELY, premiered at Toronto in 2007.

World Cinema Documentary Competition Jury Members:

Amir Bar-Lev – FIGHTER, Amir Bar-Lev's directorial debut, won Best Documentary at the Newport and Galway Film Festivals, Audience Choice at the Hamptons Film Festival, and Jury Citation at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. It was released theatrically in Fall of 2001. His second film, MY KID COULD PAINT THAT, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and was released internationally last fall . Bar-Lev has also taught documentary at NYU, produced and executive produced shows for Sundance Channel, VH1, MTV, Spike!, and TWC as well as directed numerous award-winning short films.

Leena Pasanen – As Director of European Documentary Network, EDN, Leena Pasanen is well known to professionals working in documentary film and television. Pasanen started her career at the Finnish News Agency as a reporter and a political commentator. She later joined YLE, Finnish Broadcasting Company, where she held a myriad roles including Head of Documentaries for YLE TV1. Before moving to EDN in 2005, Pasanen was Head of Programs for YLE Teema, a channel focused on culture, science and education. She has been a regular expert, tutor and lecturer for several training programs, including Discovery Campus and EURODOC.

Ilda Santiago – Ilda Santiago is the Executive Director and Head of Programming of Festival do Rio, Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival, one of the main cinema events in Latin America. She is one of the founders and is in charge of the international area of Estação Group, the main art house circuit and distributor in Brazil, with more than 300 titles released over the years.


The Short Film Jury will award prizes based on outstanding achievement and merit in short filmmaking to one U.S. and one international short film playing at the Festival. The short film prizes are presented by Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Short Film Competition Jury Members:

Jon Bloom – With almost four decades in the motion picture industry, Jon Bloom is an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated filmmaker with broad experience as a director, producer, writer, cinematographer and editor. An officer and three-term Governor at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Bloom also is Chair of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch. Additionally, he has created and produced several times for the Academy its annual theatrical trailer promoting the Oscar telecast and created many special montages and tributes for the Academy Awards ceremony, as well as for the Emmys, SAG Awards and other event telecasts.

Melonie Diaz – Actress Melonie Diaz can be seen in four films at the Sundance Film Festival this year: Michel Gondry’s BE KIND REWIND with co-stars Jack Black and Mos Def, Neil Abramson’s AMERICAN SON opposite Nick Cannon, Brett Simon’s ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT and the comedy HAMLET 2 directed by Andrew Fleming and starring Katherine Keener and Steve Coogan. Past performances include Peter Sollett’s RAISING VICTOR VARGAS, which screened at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and Ditto Montiel’s A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS, which screened at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

Jason Reitman – Known for his keen, pitch-perfect satirical commentaries on our society, director Jason Reitman has established himself as an original, smart and funny storyteller. Reitman has had three short films screen at the Sundance Film Festival: GULP, IN GOD WE TRUST and OPERATION. He made his feature film directing debut with the 2006 hit THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, based on the acclaimed novel by Christopher Buckley, which played at Sundance in 2006. It went on to earn an Independent Spirit Award for best screenplay. In 2006, Reitman was named best debut director by the National Board of Review and U.S. Comedy Arts. His most recent feature film, JUNO, debuted at the 2007 Telluride Film Festival.


Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

Provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this prize is presented to the writer and director of an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character.

Alfred P. Sloan Prize Jury Members:

Alan Alda – Five-time Emmy Award winner, six-time Golden Globe winner, Academy Award nominee and best-selling author Alan Alda returns to the Sundance Film Festival in this year's DIMINISHED CAPACITY, directed by Terry Kinney. He appeared in last year's Sundance Film Festival in Rod Lurie’s RESURECTING THE CHAMP. In addition to the 11 years he spent on the television series M*A*S*H, Alda also starred in ABC's The West Wing. He has acted in, written, and directed many feature films and played vital parts in such diverse works as Woody Allen's CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (1989) and Martin Scorsese's THE AVIATOR (2004). An accomplished stage veteran, Alda was nominated for Tony Awards for lead roles in the musical The Apple Tree and the play Jake's Women. Other plays include QED, Only in America, Fair Game for Lovers and The Owl and the Pussycat.

Michael Polish – Michael Polish made his feature film debut at 1999 Sundance Film Festival with TWIN FALLS IDAHO, which he directed, co-wrote and starred in with twin brother Mark Polish. JACKPOT, the brothers' second feature film, won the 2001 Independent Spirit Award. Premiering at Sundance in 2003, NORTHFORK, starring James Woods, Daryl Hannah and Nick Nolte, garnered rave reviews. Recounting their artistic rite of passage for aspiring moviemakers everywhere, the Polish brothers wrote The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking, recently published by Harcourt.

Evan I. Schwartz – Author Evan I. Schwartz has published four books, the latest of which is Juice: The Creative Fuel That Drives World-Class Inventors (Harvard Business School Press). Schwartz's previous book, The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit, and the Birth of Television (HarperCollins) was named by Fortune as one of the 75 best business books of all time. Evan is a former editor at BusinessWeek, where he was part of a team ­that won a National Magazine Award. He has also written for The New York Times, Wired, and MIT's Technology Review. Most recently, Evan served as a writer and producer for SAVED BY THE SUN, airing on PBS as part of the NOVA series.

Benedict Schwegler Jr., Ph.D., M.ASCE As chief scientist of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Research & Development, Benedict Schwegler has been involved in nearly all of WDI's construction projects over the past two decades. Under his leadership, a team of engineers uses computerized models to design and manage capital projects for the Disney Enterprises, with an emphasis on energy and water conservation. Schwegler is also a Consulting Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, where he has helped create the first university course on Sustainable Engineering.

John Underkoffler – John Underkoffler is Chief Scientist and co-founder of Oblong Industries, Inc., whose flagship product, g-speak, is the world's first mature & robust gestural computing platform. He served as science and technology advisor to the MINORITY REPORT (2002), THE HULK (2003), and AEON FLUX (2005), among others. Underkoffler's engineering and design pursuits in Los Angeles include work for the entertainment, gaming, and music industries, as well as academia. In 2004 he served on a featured panel at Sundance sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, entitled The Perils of Prometheus; Ethics in Science and Film.

Special Jury Prizes

The documentary and dramatic juries may, at their discretion, select films from each of the Festival’s four competitions to receive special recognition for their unique vision or excellence.

2008 Sundance Film Festival Sponsors

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival sponsors help sustain Sundance Institute's year-round programs to support independent artists, inspire risk-taking, and encourage diversity in the arts. This year's Festival Sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors - Entertainment Weekly, Volkswagen of America, Inc., HP, and Adobe Systems Incorporated; Leadership Sponsors - American Express, Delta Air Lines, DIRECTV, and Microsoft Corporation; Sustaining Sponsors - 360 Vodka, Blockbuster Inc., ChaCha, L’Oréal Paris, The New York Times, Ray-Ban, Sony Electronics, Inc., Stella Artois®, Turning Leaf Vineyards, Utah Film Commission, and ZonePerfect® Nutrition Bars. Sundance Channel is the Official Television Network of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film. Held each January in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, Utah, the Festival is a core program of Sundance Institute, a nonprofit cultural organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981Presenting dramatic and documentary feature-length films in nine distinct categories and approximately 80 short films each year, the Sundance Film Festival has introduced American audiences to some of the most innovative films of the past two decades. Since 1984, the Festival program has evolved to include music, art, and dialogue. Beyond the streets of Park City, the official website of the Sundance Film Festival, shares the Festival experience with a global audience with short films, filmmaker interviews, video episodes, podcasts, photos, news stories, and more.


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