The Jury: Producer & Sundance’s Catalyst Program Director Giulia Caruso, Programmer-Producer Drea Clark (A VIEW OF THE WORLD FROM FIFTH AVENUE), Director Yannis Sakaridis (AMERIKA SQUARE) and Filmmaker-Editor Nicole Otero (SLIP) made the following statement:
First we want to give honorable mention to a project that shows a lot of promise in its premise, perspective, and ambition. We hope this acknowledgment will encourage you to take your ideas to script, to craft an exceptional cast of characters to support all the nuance in the world you want to create.
Our honorable mention is Story from A Southern Coast by Alki Politi.
The jury was impressed by this film’s ability to weave cultural specificity into a contemporary world, to bridge ancient stories with fresh resonance. It reminded us all of the devastating yet critical moment when we finally see our parents as imperfect beings. And yet all of these themes are inside of an adventure we all want to go on with our families. With a very clever title to boot. We are happy to grant the Discovery Days award to A Girl Named Zeus by Nikos Dayandas.
This film sends a message of love and compassion and tolerance. It deals with important issues of the times from the point of view of the new generation that struggles to find its way amidst a desensitized adult world. At the same time, it is a story that is superbly acted, masterfully crafted and, most importantly, made with compassion itself.
A film about humanity and controversial matters, extremism, corruption, violence, and at the core of it the lack of love. A well-crafted and directed film that we honor with the Jury Special Award.
The recipient of the Best Director award in the feature film category is no stranger to accolades, deservedly so. An accomplished director, screenwriter, and producer of five films, the first of which became an international cult hit, he has won festival awards throughout his career. We recognize not only the brilliant tragicomic vision of this filmmaker but also his dedication to social justice and advocacy of human rights. It is our honor to give the Best Director for a feature film award to Panos Koutras from Dodo.
We are pleased to give an Honorary Mention to an accomplished writer, director, and producer whose three short films were all festival selections and whose first feature film, made us laugh, cry and everything in between. Honorary Mention for Best Director in a feature film goes to Spiros Jacovides from Black Stone.
This gifted young actress has already garnered over a dozen credits in film and television and has received two nominations and one win at three major Greek film festivals for her stellar performances. Her starring role in this film, showed the full range of her talents; her compassion and her depth are profound and her soulful eyes speak more than words can say. We are pleased to present the award for Best Performance in a feature film to Efthalia Papacosta from LISTEN.
An accomplished actress singer, and dancer, this performer got her first acting role at 4 years old. Since then, she has starred in various theater productions, television series, short and feature films across Europe, and here in the U.S showing a great versatility across formats and genres. For her heart-wrenching turn as a young Arabic woman in Iman, which screened last night at our festival, we are pleased to give Honorary Mention for Best Performance in a feature film to Stephanie Atala.
Migrants and refugees undertake a perilous journey as they cross European borders in their quest for a life of dignity. This documentary, guided by a compassionate lens of photojournalist Giorgos Moutafis, unveils the untold stories of the otherwise lost and marginalized, shedding light on the systemic challenges and human rights violations embedded within the migration crisis. The gripping portrayal compels us to reflect on our responsibility as global citizens and serves as a powerful testament to the transformative power of storytelling rooted in our shared humanity. We proudly honor and recognize The Other Half with the award for Best Documentary.
In weaving together archival footage, audio recordings, and animation to deliver the raucous, fascinating, and multi-dimensional life story of a singularly badass woman, we applaud this film’s commitment to the art of nonfiction storytelling. Delightful, outrageous, and life-affirming all at once, these filmmakers were able to permeate every frame with the unique humanity of Chelly Wilson. We are thrilled to present a Special Jury Award for Directing to Valerie Kontakos and the team behind Queen of the Deuce.
Two women in crisis find themselves together in a psychiatrist’s office, each one becoming the other’s savior. This boldly comic film is sensitively directed, with extraordinarily compelling dialogue. The human connection and empathy displayed by both actresses is refreshingly anti-cynical and humanistic. The film elegantly shows how female bonding can be genuinely transformational. We recognize Pebble with the award for Best Short Film.
This film depicts the raw yet therapeutic relationship between two former military comrades who reconnect after many years for one’s birthday. Reminiscent of Patroclus and Achilles, the actors give sublimely subtle and mature performances that demystify the cliches of masculinity. Because this movie stayed with us longest, we give an Honorable Mention to 5pm Seaside.
This film takes flight with Vanina, an air hostess played by the talented Lena Papaligoura, whose inner turbulence parallels that of the aircraft she’s working on. The provocative filming and editing style, which rarely leaves Vanina’s face, is complemented by flawless production design, scoring, and editing. For this reason, we award Air Hostess-737 a Special Jury Award.
Serene and fluid like the ocean itself, this beautifully executed film deals with grief and the passing of a loved one. Its wonderfully crafted, surreal animation style brings the viewer along on a very personal journey. The drawings flow into each other gracefully and carry with them a calming, contemplative narrative, further aided by the atmospheric sound design. We are very happy to choose My Mother The Sea for Best Animation.
Inspired by classic cartoons of the past and taking full advantage of fast-paced animation, this movie tells the story of a group of Greek warriors who hide inside a giant wooden horse and try to trick their way through the walls of the great city of Troy. However, they meet their match in an oblivious Trojan guardsman. Told primarily through exaggerated physical comedy and visual jokes, Trojan Horace is Scott Graham’s humorous take on the ancient story.
|6/3/2023 7:00 PM||Event/Film||Opening Night: Black Stone & G. Pelecanos Tribute - Reception||UCLA James Bridges Theater||Buy Tickets|
|6/4/2023 3:00 PM||Event||G. Pelecanos Masterclass||LACC||Register|
|6/4/2023 3:30 PM||Film||ANIMATION BLOCK for older kids||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/4/2023 5:00 PM||Film||Karagiozis The Movie & Travel Bugs||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/4/2023 7:30 PM||Film||Where We Live & AirHostess-737||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/5/2023 6:30 PM||Film||Venizelos: the Struggle for Asia Minor & George||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/6/2023 1:00 PM||Film||Hussies - Student Fellowship Screening||LMU, Broccoli Theater|
|6/6/2023 7:30 PM||Film||Queen of the Deuce & Gypsy Rose Leezinski||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/7/2023 6:30 PM||Event||Filmmakers Welcoming party (exclusive)||San Marino|
|6/8/2023 5:00 PM||Film||Short Block L||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/8/2023 7:30 PM||Film||Cavewoman||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/8/2023 9:00 PM||Event||Hollywood Scene and Be Seen Party||Sunset House||Buy Tickets|
|6/9/2023 6:00 PM||Film||Miss Mary's Room & The Thisvi Trilogy||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/9/2023 8:00 PM||Film||Travelling Ghosts & Iota Period Omega||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/10/2023 10:00 AM||Event||Filmmakers Brunch at Consular Residence (Gold Pass exclusive)||Pacific Palisades||Buy Tickets|
|6/10/2023 1:30 PM||Film||Searching for Rodakis & On Xerxes’ Throne||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/10/2023 4:00 PM||Film||MAUTHAUSEN||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/10/2023 4:00 PM||Film/Event||Cinematherapy - Toxic Magnus||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/10/2023 6:00 PM||Film||Dodo||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/10/2023 6:00 PM||Film||Drama Shorts and more||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/10/2023 8:00 PM||Film||Magnetic Fields - Under the Lake - Intern||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/10/2023 8:30 PM||Film||Iman & Daphne||Regal LA Live dtla||Buy Tickets|
|6/11/2023 5:00 PM||Event/Film||LISTEN & Orpheus Awards - Reception||PDC Silver Screen||Buy Tickets|
|6/12/2023 - 6/18/2023||Film||Virtual Screenings||Eventive||Buy Tickets|
|6/15/2023||Event||Cinematography in the World||Virtual||Register|
|6/17/2023||Event||Filmmakers’ Guidelines for the International Market||Virtual||Register|
GIULIA CARUSO (JURY) is the Director of Catalyst and Industry at Sundance, overseeing the year-round film financing program of the Institute. Prior to joining Sundance, Giulia co-founded the independent production company Nonetheless Productions. She was nominated for a Piaget Producers Award with partner Ki Jin Kim and received a Spirit Award for Andrew Ahn’s debut feature SPA NIGHT. Her work as producer spans critically acclaimed debut features, including HOLY EMY (dir. Araceli Lemos) and COLUMBUS (dir. Kogonada), award winning short films, documentary series and branded content.
DREA CLARK (JURY) is a longtime film festival programmer, currently at Geena Davis’s Bentonville Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival, and previously with Slamdance and LA Film Fest. As a producer, Drea has released four independent features, including A VIEW OF THE WORLD FROM FIFTH AVENUE (director Fiona Robert) which is playing festivals in 2023. She’s also produced numerous shorts, music videos, webseries, and a pilot for FX directed by Charlie Day. She is currently Producer-in-Residence at Film Independent, as well as the Nominations Producer for the Spirit Awards. Drea co-hosts Maximum Film!, a weekly movie podcast with comedian Ify Nwadiwe and film critic Alonso Duralde, on the Maximum Fun network.
PANOS IOSIFELIS (ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS) is a Screenwriter, Professor in Screenwriting for Cinema and Television – School of Film, Faculty of Fine Arts of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He is a Coordinator and Professor of Cinema and Television Writing at the Postgraduate “Creative Writing” Program of Hellenic Open University. He has written scripts for 5 feature films, 322 one hour long episodes for TV series, 8 scripts for short films, 2 feature length documentaries and an educational web series of 50 episodes. The feature films he has written have participated and won awards in many Greek and International festivals. He is a member of the evaluation and advisory committee for script selections and funding at the Greek Film Center, and is the Head Programmer for the National Student Competition Program at Drama International Short Film Festival. He is also a member of the Scriptwriters Guild of Greece and the Head of the Film School of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and is a member of the Senate of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2018-2020).
PAVEL JECH (SCREENPLAY FEEDBACK) is a graduate of the Columbia University Film Division as well as of FAMU, The Film and Television School of the Academy of the Performing Arts in Prague, where he served two terms as dean from 2008 to 2016. During his terms, FAMU was ranked among the top film schools in the world, and student films met great success at some of the world’s top festivals. Previously, Jech was the founding chair of FAMU International, a department for English speaking students, and also the faculty liaison for NYU-Tisch, American University, Yale and other programs for American students visiting Prague. He is an active instructor of screenwriting and script analysis, and works as an expert advisor for Sundance Labs, Berlinale Talents, the Mediterranean Film Institute and for the Midpoint Center, which he co-founded and serves as head of studies. Jech lectures internationally, and his manual on dramaturgy for short films, The Seven Minute Screenplay is used by film students around the world. He also worked in over ten countries as a screenwriter and script editor, including for the feature film GRANTHOTEL (Berlinale premiere 2007), has worked as a creative collaborator on some of the most recent films of Jan Nemec, and has directed a short film presented at the European Film Academy Award ceremony.
KI JIN KIM (ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS) is a Korean filmmaker based in LA. As a filmmaker of color, and a proud Asian immigrant, Kim’s community-based projects center marginalized ethnic communities in the US and Europe, and their diasporic experiences. Kim is one of the founding members of the independent production company Nonetheless Productions and has served as producer and cinematographer on award-winning feature films, including HOLY EMY (dir. Araceli Lemos) , COLUMBUS (dir. Kogonada), DRIVEWAYS and SPA NIGHT (dir. Andrew Ahn).
ANA LEOCHA (ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS) is a producer and development executive who has worked at Tango Entertainment since 2018. She was a co-producer on AFTERSUN (dir. Charlotte Wells), RESURRECTION (dir. Andrew Seman), THE DROP (Sarah Adina Smith), and SHORTCOMINGS (Randall Park), among others. She works across film and television and is passionate about emerging filmmakers and new voices.
JASON LEW (ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS) is a Chinese-American filmmaker based out of Los Angeles. He wrote and directed THE FREE WORLD, which premiered in Dramatic Competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The film stars Elisabeth Moss, Boyd Holbrook & Octavia Spencer and was distributed by IFC. His first screenplay, RESTLESS was directed by Gus Van Sant and produced by Ron Howard. Recently, Lew has been writing/producing on multiple TV projects (INSECURE, BALLERS) for HBO, including an original pilot developed for Lebron James’ banner, Springhill. Current: a scripted podcast for Qcode, a western-feature currently in development, a drama series with Tessa Thompson’s VIVA MAUDE and writing/producing credits on Damon Lindelof’s latest show for Peacock. Jason was a Cinereach fellow and is a grad of NYU, where he studied acting, directing and design for theater.
NICOLE OTERO (JURY) is a writer, director and editor. In 2020, Otero’s directorial narrative debut, SLIP, was acquired & distributed by Kino Lorber/Dedza, as part of a collection highlighting emerging and underrepresented directors. SLIP is currently streaming on the Criterion Channel. Her next narrative short, WHEN THERE WAS WATER, premiered at BAMcinemaFest in New York. She is a recipient of the 2022 NALIP Latino Lens grant for her latest film WAIT FOR NIGHT, a spiritual proof of concept for her upcoming feature project in development. In addition to her work as a director, Otero has also edited several films for major museum exhibitions, including MoMA, the New Museum in NY, the Hammer Museum, and more. She edited THE AFRICAN DESPERATE, a feature film that premiered at the 2022 International Film Festival Rotterdam and New Directors/New Films at Lincoln Center. She also served as a writer on CIVIC, a short film which played IFFR and Clermont Ferrand in 2023.
YANNIS SAKARIDIS’ (JURY) career has spanned thirty years in film production. He is the director of AMERIKA SQUARE, a multi awarded film and Greece’s official selection for Best Foreign Film for Oscars 2017, and he is Artistic Director of Drama International Short Film Festival. He has previously directed WILD DUCK which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2013. The film went on to enjoy a successful festival run. AMERIKA SQUARE was released in the US, China, Spain, UK, Turkey, Greece and has been aired by many TV stations including HBO Europe. It premiered at the 2016 Busan International Film Festival and went on to play the prestigious 2016 Chicago Film Festival and 2017 Palms Springs Film Festival. Amerika Square won: Audience Award in Beijing IFF, FIPRESCI Award in Thessaloniki IFF, Special Youth Jury Award in Thessaloniki IFF, Special Mention to the actor Vassilis KoukalaniI in Thessaloniki IFF, Erasmus Youth Jury Award in Trieste IFF, Best Feature Film in 2017 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, Best Film in Open Frontiers Contest, Best Screenplay in CineDays, IOM Special Mention in Global Migration Film Festival. Yannis has won the Best Editing Award from Hellenic Film Academy.
IAN SAMUELS’ (SCREENPLAY FEEDBACK) hybrid work has screened internationally at festivals and venues including Sundance, SXSW, Telluride and Slamdance. He has worked for the Jim Henson Company and Sesame Street. Ian received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts in film directing, a BFA from Bard College in film / video, and is a 2014 Film Independent Project: Involve fellow. Ian’s latest film Amazon’s Original Movie, THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS starring Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton was nominated for a 2022 Critics Choice Award. Ian’s previous films include SIERRA BURGESS IS A LOSER which premiered on Netflix in 2018 and MYRNA THE MONSTER which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
Screenwriter JEFF STOCKWELL’s (GROUP INTRO) produced credits include Sundance film THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and A WRINKLE IN TIME for Disney, Writer’s Guild Award-nominated WILDER DAYS for TNT and, most recently, IVY & BEAN for Netflix. He has done uncredited work on a range of films including ARTEMIS FOWL and PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF. Jeff has worked as a consulting writer at several major animation companies, including a year’s residence at Pixar. He has a range of unproduced projects in various stages of development – from “happening soon – we promise!” to “stored in that warehouse somewhere next to the Lost Ark.” Jeff is a longtime active instructor/mentor for labs and programs sponsored by Film Independent, Global Media Makers, USC’s American Film Showcase and the Writers Guild of America. He is currently on strike!
MARTINE SYMS (JURY) is an artist who has earned wide recognition for a practice that combines conceptual grit, humor, and social commentary. She has shown extensively including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, ICA London, and The Hammer Museum, among others. She is the recipient of a 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship in Film-Video and the recipient of the 2022 Herb Alpert Award. She is also the recipient of a creative Capital Award, a United States Artists Fellowship, the Tiffany Foundation Prize, and the Future Fields Art Prize. She is in a band called Aunt Sister and hosts CCartalkLA, a monthly radio show on NTS. She also runs Dominica, a publishing imprint for artist books.
MATTHEW TAKATA (ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS) is the Manager for the Feature Film Program’s international work at Sundance Institute. His focus is on international outreach and selection for the Institute’s Screenwriters and Directors Labs in Utah, FFP’s international labs and workshops in Greece, Cuba and Japan, and the annual Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Awards and Sundance/NHK Award. Previously, Takata worked in development at GK Films, following a stint at Key Creatives and International Creative Management. Takata attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a native of the San Francisco bay area.
DANIEL TALBOTT (SCREENPLAY FEEDBACK) is an award-winning writer and director, a Lucille Lortel Award winning theater producer, and the artistic director of Rising Phoenix Rep. His first feature film co-written and co-directed with Samantha Soule, MIDDAY BLACK MIDNIGHT BLUE premiered at SIFF in Seattle in 2022 and will be released in June 2023 by Good Deed Entertainment. His horror drama pilot ROME, GEORGIA (starring Mary-Louise Parker) is in development with Vertigo Entertainment. His feature script GRAY is in active development in Denmark with Motor Productions, with Martin de Thura attached to direct. Other TV writing includes THE MIST based on the Stephen King novella, and THE CONNERS on ABC. He is a graduate of Juilliard.
COLIN WEST (AUDIOVISUAL WORKSHOP) is an award-winning writer and director from Columbus, Ohio and now based in LA & NYC. His films include LINOLEUM (SXSW Film Festival, 2022) starring Jim Gaffigan, Rhea Seehorn, Katelyn Nacon, Michael Ian Black and Tony Shalhoub, and DOUBLE WALKER co-written by and starring Sylvie Mix. He also produced the Stacy Keach led film SURVIVAL SKILLS, sponsored by Film Independent.