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HBO Reveals 4 Finalists for Inaugural HBOAccess Program That Identifies Diverse Emerging Filmmakers

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by Tambay A. Obenson
June 10, 2014 9:33 AM
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Clockwise from top-left: Jamal Caesar, Alonso Alvarez, Keola Racela, Sasie Sealy
Clockwise from top-left: Jamal Caesar, Alonso Alvarez, Keola Racela, Sasie Sealy

HBO announced yesterday the four finalists for HBOAccess, a new 4-week program that identifies diverse emerging filmmakers and provides participants with development, mentorship and the opportunity to create short-form content for HBO. The finalists were chosen based on projects they submitted during the application process; the finalists and projects are as follows:

- Jamal Caesar is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts where he received an M.F.A. in Filmmaking. He was the recipient of a Hollywood Foreign Press Association Grant Award for his thesis film, REFORM, about a young Hasidic man caught at the crossroads of a devastating and tragic secret.

- Alonso Alvarez is a Mexican-born writer/director whose short films have been honored in film festivals worldwide, including the Cannes International Film Festival. His film, CRESCENDO, about a woman living in the 18th century who is forced to make a decision that will affect the world forever, has been an official selection in over 30 international film festivals, including the Telluride Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, earning 17 international awards.

- Keola Racela is a narrative filmmaker who is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Directing from Columbia University. His thesis short, ABOVE THE SEA, about a woman in 1930's Shanghai whose life is threatened by a murderous policeman, won a 2014 Student Academy Award.

- Sasie Sealy is a New York-based writer/director who has won a National Board of Review Award and whose work has been broadcast on PBS and selected as part of IFP's Buzz Cuts. Her film, THE ELEPHANT GARDEN, about a young girl's struggle to reconcile the shifting boundaries between childhood and adolescence when her older sister gets her first boyfriend, won the Student Visionary Award at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.

The program will be held in Los Angeles from June 3-26, 2014, during which time finalists will be paired with an HBO development executive who will serve as his/her mentor throughout the process. Together, the filmmaker and executive will develop the project submitted during the application process. HBO will provide a series of master classes taught by HBO executives and creative talent.

At the completion of the development process, each project will be considered for production as a 10-15 minute film or a series of webisodes to air on various HBO platforms including, but not limited to, HBO GO, HBO, HBO's YouTube channel, HBO.com, film festivals, charity screenings and other outlets.

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