Sundance Horizon Award Honors Two Female Filmmakers For Excellence

Lynette Howell Taylor

The fifth annual Horizon Award for up-and-coming female directors has been presented to Caroline Friend and Zenzele Niambi Ojore. The two were honored at a ceremony held during the Sundance Film Festival by award co-founders Cassian Elwes, Lynette Howell Taylor, and Christine Vachon.

The winners received an all-expenses-paid trip to Sundance and meetings with producers, filmmakers, festival programmers and others in the film industry. Both winners had submitted three times previously before finally breaking through to the winner’s circle.

The Adrienne Shelly Foundation returned to the awards as a supporter with a $5,000 grant for the two winners. ShivHans Pictures returned with a $25,000 grant for the pair.

This year’s judges included Minhal Baig, Maria Bello, Catherine Hardwicke, Anne Hathaway, Hannah Minghella, Dee Rees, and Tanya Wexler. Working from this list, the final two filmmakers were decided by the Horizon Award co-founders and Sundance feature film director Michelle Satter.

Attendees at the awards included presenters David Oyelowo, Cheryl Hines, and Cameron Bailey, as well as Jennifer Salke (head, Amazon Studios); Graham Taylor (head, Endeavor Content);  Cassian Elwes (producer, founder Horizon Award, ReFrame Ambassador); Michelle Satter (director, founding supporter of the Horizon Award/ReFrame Ambassador); Cathy Schulman (president, Welle Entertainment/ReFrame Ambassador); Joana Vicente (co-director, Toronto International Film Festival/ReFrame Ambassador); Cameron Bailey (co-director, Toronto International Film Festival); Kirsten Schaffer (executive director, Women In Film Los Angeles); Alison Emilio (director, Partner/Advisory Board and event producer);  Shivani Rawat (CEO and founder, ShivHans Pictures):  Monica Levinson (president, production, ShivHans Pictures); Justine Bateman (actress, director); Maria Bello (actress, director, ReFrame Ambassador, activist); and Franklin Leonard (The Black List founder)

Horizon Award organizers reached out to 275 schools worldwide, resulting in over 400 submissions from a broad range of schools, including leading film schools, including New York University, USC, UCLA, Yale, Columbia, Emerson, Brown, Boston University, Australian Film Television and Radio School, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia State, Florida State, Lebanese University (Lebanon), London Film School, Los Angeles Community College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Polish National Film School in Lodz Poland, Tel Aviv University, and Columbia College Chicago

Female Filmmaker Awards:

Zenzele Niambi Ojore 

Official Title: The South is My Sister’s Skin

School: Rhode Island School of Design – Class of 2018

Bio: Zenzele Ojore is a writer/director and interdisciplinary artist. While studying photography and film at the Rhode Island School of Design, she traveled to Chile with Adobe to capture a story on the melting glaciers of Patagonia, and received a fellowship to work on a photo series in the Southwest section of Uganda titled “The Buhoma Side of Bwindi”. Zenzele screened her first short film at the 2013 SXSW film festival in Austin; raised in Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia her work is inspired by the eccentric spirit of the American South.

Caroline Friend 

Official Title: Under Darkness

School: USC – Class of 2016

Bio: Caroline is a filmmaker with a passion for bringing the past to life through writing and directing. She is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California where she majored in Film & TV Production, as well as History. While at USC, she was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant to write and direct Under Darkness, a short film about a female World War II photographer and soldier. Caroline has directed other projects in collaboration with the USC History Department and Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, and her work has been screened at film festivals internationally. She currently lives in Los Angeles and continues to seek meaningful historical content to bring to the screen.

Also Awarded:

Michelle Satter, Founding Director, Sundance Feature Film Program; Founding Supporter, Horizon Award – Founders Award

Alison Emilio, Director, ReFrame; Partner/Advisory Board and event producer, Horizon Award – Contribution to Female Film Makers Award


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