Sundance 2012: Focus Forward launches worldwide “Filmmaker Challenge”

The initiative, focusing on doc shorts that spotlight innovative people and/or organizations that have had positive impacts on humanity, will award US$200,000 to the top five entrants in its competition, with $100,000 going to the grand prize winner.
January 23, 2012

The Cinelan/GE Focus Forward short documentary initiative is embarking upon a “Filmmaker Challenge” which will offer filmmakers from around the world the opportunity to claim part of a US$200,000 prize.

The Focus Forward project, which debuts its first five films at Sundance tomorrow, will award the money to the top five entrants in the competition, geared towards finding captivating stories concerning people or organizations whose “innovative efforts in medicine, computer science, robotics, engineering, green energy, or other fields of applied technical knowledge have had a significant positive impact on humanity.”

The films submitted to the competition will be available to be viewed on content partner site Vimeo, sitting alongside films from the first 30 Focus Forward filmmakers. A list of helmers taking part in the project thus far reads like a documentary who’s who, and includes Lucy Walker, Stanley Nelson, Joe Berlinger, Lixin Fan, Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Leslie Iwerks, Steve James, Barbara Kopple, Ross Kauffman, Cinelan co-founder Morgan Spurlock and Jessica Yu.

The submission process will open in April, with winners to be announced at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. For more information on how to take part, click here.

“The concept is to build a traveling non-fiction film series,” said Jack Myers, project producer. “We will be inviting filmmakers from every corner of the earth to join us in creating short films about game-changing innovation.”

“We’re known for supporting documentary filmmakers in the Sundance community and around the world, so getting the word out about the Filmmaker Challenge is a natural extension of our creative mission,” added John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival. “We’re also delighted to note that this relationship goes beyond 2012 with the Filmmaker Challenge awards ceremony at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.”

Also announced at Sundance, seven more filmmakers have signed on to craft three-minute docs for the initiative: Steven Cantor (loudQUIETloud), Kief Davidson (Kassim the Dream), Senain Kheshgi (Project Kashmir), Victor Kossakovsky (¡Vivan las antipodas!), Jeff Reichert (Gerrymandering), and Annie Sundberg & Ricki Stern (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work).

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.