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Sundance First Look: "Short Films, Big Ideas" and the Three-Minute Filmmaker Challenge

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood January 23, 2012 at 3:28PM

Maybe the best ideas do come in short films. That's the notion behind the Focus Forward which is launching its Filmmaker Challenge. The Filmmaker Challenge will select five winners, determined by a professional jury.
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Sundance Short Films

Maybe the best ideas do come in short films. That's the notion behind the Focus Forward which is launching its Filmmaker Challenge. The Filmmaker Challenge will select five winners, determined by a professional jury. These five winners will receive $200,000 in awards and a spot to premiere their films at Sundance 2013.  YouTube launched its short film challenge last Thursday, with promises to premiere its winners at the 2012 Venice Film Festival.

Focus Foward looks to challenge its filmmakers by asking them to depict how something innovative, new, or inventive will impact humanity in just three minutes. Focus Forward looks to highlight unconventional subjects or inventive methods that make positive ramifications in the fields of computer science, medicine, engineering, or green energy. 

The Filmmaker Challenge is an expansion of Focus Forward's Short Films, Big Ideas, where thirty leading documentary filmmakers took produced three-minute nonfiction films that showcased invention or innovation, and the ways that the power of ideas impacted humanity.

Focus Forward will premiere five of these Short Films, Big Ideas at Sundance, including "Meet Mr. Toilet," about unusual sanitation methods in underdeveloped countries, "Hilary's Straws," about a quadriplegic champion sailor, and "Heart Stop Beating" about two visionary Texan doctors who successfully replaced a heart with a continuous flow-device they developed.

A new group of filmmakers has joined the Focus Forward Initiative, including Steven Cantor ("loudQUIETloud), Kief Davison ("Kassim The Dream), Jeff Reichert ("Gerrymandering") and Annie Sundberg & Ricki Stern ("Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work").  

Focus Forward will distribute their short films on cable, VOD, as well as on Vimeo.  Submissions for the Filmmakers Challenge open in mid-April and the winners will be announced at 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
 

This article is related to: Sundance, Sundance 2012, Sundance 2012 News, Shorts, Short Film, Documentary, Documentaries


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.