The Sundance Institute has announced members of the six juries awarding prizes at the 2014 festival, a list that includes film critic Leonard Maltin, “X-Men” franchise director Bryan Singer and singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman.
Feature film awards will be announced Jan. 25 in Park City at a ceremony hosted by husband-and-wife duo Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally and livestreamed at www.sundance.org/live. (Offerman headlines the Sundance film “Nick Offerman: American Ham,” while Mullally voices a character in the English-language version of “Ernest and Celestine.”)
Short Film awards will be announced at a ceremony on Jan.21 at Park City’s Jupiter Bowl.
The jurors are:
U.S. DRAMATIC JURY – Leonard Maltin, Peter Saraf, Lone Scherfig, Bryan Singer Dana Stevens
U.S. DOCUMENTARY JURY – Tracy Chapman, Charlotte Cook, Kahane Cooperman, Morgan Neville, Jonathan Oppenheim
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY JURY – Andrea Nix Fine, Sally Riley, Caspar Sonnen
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC JURY – Carlo Chatrian, Sebastian Lelio, Nansun Shi
SHORT FILM JURY – Vernon Chatman, Joshua Leonard, Ania Trzebiatowska
ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE JURY (SCIENCE IN FILM) – Dr. Kevin Hand, Flora Lichtman, Max Mayer, Jon Spaihts, Jill Tarter
Here are biographies for this year’s Sundance jurors:
Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman is a Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and international recording artist. She has made eight studio albums since her multiplatinum debut in 1988, including Tracy Chapman, Crossroads, Matters of the Heart, New Beginning, Telling Stories, Let it Rain, Where You Live, and Our Bright Future. In 2008, Chapman made her theatre debut composing the music for a new production of Athol Fugard’s classic 1961 play Blood Knot, which opened at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre. She has toured extensively in the last 25 years in the United States and abroad and has appeared frequently to support social and humanitarian causes, including for the Amnesty International Human Rights Now! tour, the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute, and concerts for Tibetan Freedom, Farm Aid, the Special Olympics, and amfAR.
Charlotte Cook – Charlotte Cooke is the director of programming at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival. She was previously head of film programming and training at the Frontline Club in London, an organization dedicated to championing independent journalism and freedom of expression. Cook has worked with the BBC’s Storyville, the Channel 4 BritDoc Foundation’s Puma Catalyst Awards, and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where she curated the Conflict|Reportage program. She has also written extensively for a number of different publications and was the main photographic researcher for the launch of London’s The Times online archive project. In addition to her programming activities, Cook advises organizations on media literacy, specializes in investigative journalism on international conflict, and has an academic background in the role technology plays for the media.
Kahane Cooperman – Kahane Cooperman is the producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She has been with the show since its inception in 1996, moving from field producer to senior producer, supervising producer and then coexecutive producer from 2005 to 2013. For her work, she has received ten Primetime Emmy Awards and two Peabodys. Cooperman began her career in documentaries at Maysles Films in New York City. She has produced and directed several documentaries, including the short Cool Water, which premiered at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival, and Making Dazed about Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, which was acquired by the Criterion Collection. Kahane also produced the feature doc Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam, directed by Nick Broomfield. Currently, Cooperman is producing two independent docs, Going Pro and Judee Sill and is on the advisory board of the Montclair Film Festival. She holds an MFA in film from Columbia University.
Morgan Neville – Morgan Neville is an award-winning filmmaker who has spent 20 years working as a cultural documentarian. Neville has been nominated for three Grammys for his music films: Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied, and Johnny Cash’s America. His other films include Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues, The Cool School, and Troubadours, which screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Through his company, Tremolo Productions, Neville has also produced films such as The Rolling Stones’ Crossfire Hurricane, Pearl Jam Twenty, The Night James Brown Saved Boston, and Beauty Is Embarrassing. His most recent film is 20 Feet from Stardom, which premiered on Day One of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and went on to become the top-grossing documentary of the year.
Jonathan Oppenheim – Jonathan Oppenheim is a documentary film editor whose credits include the now-classic Paris Is Burning, cowinner of the 1991 Sundance Documentary Grand Jury Prize, an IDA Award, and awards from the New York and Los Angeles film critics. Other credits include Sister Helen, which won the Documentary Directing Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival; Arguing the World, which earned a Peabody Award; and Children Underground, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Oppenheim edited and coproduced The Oath, the second film in Laura Poitras’s post-9/11 trilogy, a winner of multiple awards, including a Gotham. Most recently, he was editor/coproducer of Andre Gregory: Before and After Dinner, and coeditor of William and the Windmill, winner of the 2013 Grand Jury Prize at SXSW. He has participated as both advisor and fellow at the Sundance Institute Documentary Edit and Story Lab.
Leonard Maltin – Leonard Maltin is best known for his annual Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and his 30-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and appears on Reelz Channel. Maltin’s books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Disney Films, and The Art of the Cinematographer. He has served as president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, votes on selections for the National Film Registry, and sits on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He also hosted and coproduced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series. Maltin has received awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, the Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. He holds court at leonardmaltin.com and on his self-named YouTube channel.
Peter Saraf – Peter Saraf’s producing credits include The Kings of Summer, Safety Not Guaranteed, Our Idiot Brother, Jack Goes Boating, Sunshine Cleaning, Away We Go, Is Anybody There?, Little Miss Sunshine, Everything Is Illuminated, The Truth About Charlie, Adaptation, Ulee’s Gold, and the feature documentaries Mandela and The Agronomist. He recently completed work on Gods Behaving Badly and is in postproduction on Me Him Her. Saraf has been nominated for Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards and has won multiple other honors, including Independent Spirit, Gotham, and Producers Guild of America awards. He is the cofounder of Big Beach, a New York-based independent film-production and financing company. Saraf is also the current chair of the Producers Guild of America East.
Lone Scherfig – Lone Scherfig began her career directing award-winning commercials and television dramas in her native Denmark. Her first feature as director, The Birthday Trip, premiered at the 1991 Berlin International Film Festival, and her second feature, On Our Own, won the Grand Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival. Scherfig wrote and directed Denmark’s fifth Dogme film, Italian for Beginners, which won the Silver Bear, the FIPRESCI Prize, and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival. Her first English-language film, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, which she cowrote with Anders Thomas Jensen, received four British Independent Film Award nominations. Scherfig directed An Education, which won the World Cinema Audience Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and received Academy Award nominations for best picture, best adapted screenplay, and best actress. She is currently in postproduction on Posh.
Bryan Singer – Bryan Singer is an American filmmaker, writer, and producer who been a tour de force for nearly 20 years. Singer’s first feature film, Public Access, was cowinner of the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Since then he’s assembled an award-winning and critically acclaimed resume with the 1995 crime-thriller classic, The Usual Suspects, which won Academy Awards for best original screenplay and best supporting actor, as well as the seminal comic-book films X-Men (2000) and X2 (2003). Singer executive-produced the Emmy Award-winning series House, as well as producing the 2011 hit X-Men: First Class. Currently, he is back at the helm of the franchise that he helped create, both directing and producing X-Men: Days of Future Past. Coming back to the Sundance Film Festival marks a return to his filmmaking roots at the festival that gave him his first major break.
Dana Stevens – Dana Stevens is the film critic at Slate.com. She is also cohost of the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast and the host of another podcast, the Slate Spoiler Special. Stevens is one of 12 contributors to the weekly “Bookends” column on the back page of the New York Times Book Review. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Stevens studied comparative literature at the University of California at Berkeley and got started writing about film in 2002 with a personal movie blog, “The High Sign.” She now feels very lucky to live in Brooklyn with a man, a child, and a dog, and to get to write and talk about movies, books, and culture for a living.
Andrea Nix Fine – Andrea Nix Fine is an Academy Award- and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker who specializes in creating visually powerful and authentic portraits of characters who tell their own story. Crafted with her husband and directing partner, Sean, the Fines’ films have been hailed by critics as “unflinching,” “spirit raising,” and “visually ravishing.” Their short film Inocente won the 2013 Academy Award for best documentary short. The Fines’ feature documentary, Life According to Sam, debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and aired on HBO. The film won awards at the Heartland, Nantucket, AFI, and Mountainfilm film festivals. The Fines’ film War/Dance won the documentary Directing Award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival as well as Emmy Awards for best documentary and best cinematography and was nominated for an Academy Award. Colby College recently honored Nix with a doctorate of fine arts. The Fines have two sons and live in Washington, DC.
Sally Riley – A Wiradjuri woman, Sally Riley has been at the forefront of Indigenous filmmaking in Australia for more than 13 years. Currently the head of the Indigenous Department at ABC1 television, Riley’s mandate is to bring distinctive Indigenous content to a primetime audience for that national network. She was responsible for the award-winning TV drama series, Redfern Now. As manager of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, Riley initiated the production of a significant body of short films, documentaries, and feature films and fostered a new generation of Indigenous filmmakers, including Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah), and Wayne Blair (The Sapphires). A filmmaker herself, Riley’s film, Confessions of a Headhunter, won the AFI Award for best short film in 2000. In 2011, she was awarded the Cecil Holmes Award from the Australian Directors Guild.
Caspar Sonnen – Caspar Sonnen thinks big screens are the best but theorizes that Dziga Vertov would have loved the Internet. At the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), he created the online documentary channel IDFA.tv and founded the festival’s new media program, IDFA DocLab, which has become one of the world’s leading platforms for interactive documentary storytelling. Sonnen regularly travels with the program to film festivals like Cannes, Berlin, SXSW, and Tribeca. He has commissioned installations and organized events with the National Film Board of Canada and worked with artists like Ira Glass, Brent Hoff, and Jonathan Harris. Before joining IDFA, Sonnen worked in theatrical exhibition, distribution, and journalism. In 2003, he cofounded the Open Air Film Festival Amsterdam, one of Europe’s biggest outdoor events devoted to international art-house cinema. Sonnen is an advisor for SXSW Film, MIT’s Open Documentary Lab, and IFP’s New Media Center.
Carlo Chatrian – Journalist, author, and programmer Carlo Chatrian graduated in literature and philosophy from Turin University with additional emphases in journalism and communications. From the early 1990s, he worked regularly as a film critic for the magazines Filmcritica, Duellanti, and Cineforum and is director of the magazine Panoramiques. Chatrian has published numerous essays and monographs on filmmakers ranging from Errol Morris to Wong Kar-Wai, Frederick Wiseman to Nicolas Philibert. As a programmer, he has worked with festivals and institutions such as Cinéma du Réel in Paris, the Museo Nazionale del Cinema in Turin, and the Courmayeur Noir Film Festival in Italy. Chatrian was deputy director of the Alba International Film Festival from 2001 to 2007 and started working with the Locarno International Film Festival in 2002, where he was named artistic director in 2012. At Locarno, he has curated retrospectives on Nanni Moretti, Manga Impact, Ernst Lubitsch, Vincente Minnelli, and Otto Preminger. In 2011, he became director of the Film Commission Vallée d’Aoste Foundation.
Sebastián Lelio – Sebastián Lelio is a Chilean director. In 2006, his first film, La sagrada familia, premiered at the San Sebastián Film Festival. The film received 28 awards and earned him international recognition. Lelio’s second film, Navidad, debuted in 2009 at the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight. El año del tigre, his third feature, screened at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2011. Lelio’s fourth film, Gloria, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2013, where it was a critical and popular success. It won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and earned a Silver Bear for best actress for Paulina García. The National Board of Review named Gloria one of 2013’s top five foreign language films, and it is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award as one of the best foreign language films. Lelio is currently working on his fifth feature film.
Nansun Shi – Esteemed and prolific producer Nansun Shi has produced such blockbuster hits as Infernal Affairs (2002), Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010), Late Autumn (2010), Flying Swords of Dragon Gate in 3-D (2011), and Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013). Variety named Shi one of the 50 most influential independent filmmakers around the world, and CineAsia acclaimed her producer of the year in 2005. She was pivotal in the success of Cinema City and Film Workshop Co. Ltd., which she founded with internationally acclaimed producer/director Tsui Hark. Committed to the progress of Hong Kong cinema, Shi is a member of the Hong Kong Film Development Council. She has been a juror at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival.
Vernon Chatman – Vernon Chatman is a four-time Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, director, and voice actor. He cocreated the cult series Wonder Showzen, as well as Adult Swim’s Xavier: Renegade Angel and The Heart, She Holler. Chatman is currently a writer/producer on Louie on the FX network and has worked on South Park since its fourth season. Chatman has written for The Chris Rock Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and Adult Swim’s Delocated. He made the experimental film Final Flesh, which both Sight & Sound and Film Comment called “one of the best films of 2010.” Chatman cowrote the 2011 animated short The External World, which won more than 20 international awards. He is the author of the 2013 book Mindsploitation and producer of the 2013 Andy Kaufman comedy album Andy and His Grandmother.
Joshua Leonard – Filmmaker/actor Joshua Leonard first came to the Sundance Film Festival in 1999 with the cult-classic sensation The Blair Witch Project. His directorial debut, the short film The Youth in Us, premiered at the Festival in 2005. His narrative feature debut, The Lie, screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Leonard’s recent acting work includes Humpday, which won a Special Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival; HBO’s series True Detective; Vera Farmiga‘s Higher Ground, which screened at the Festival in 2011; and MGM’s upcoming If I Stay, directed by acclaimed Festival veteran R.J. Cutler. Leonard has also directed music videos for popular acts such as Fitz and the Tantrums, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Morcheeba, as well as teaching directing and acting at the New York Film Academy, University of California Irvine, and Academia Internacional de Cinema in São Paulo, Brazil.
Ania Trzebiatowska – Ania Trzebiatowska is the artistic director of the Off Plus Camera International Festival of Independent Cinema, based in Krakow, Poland. This annual celebration of independent film is one of the leading events of this kind in Europe. She has been with the festival for the last five years, and under her direction, it has grown significantly in stature with its competition for first- and second-time filmmakers offering financial support for new talent. Trzebiatowska hosts numerous guest events and designs parallel sidebars as well as the festival’s touring program. With her background in film studies and digital culture, she has worked in both the BBC’s documentary programs and the broadcast department of the British Museum as well as in the United Kingdom, around Europe, and in the United States. In 2012, she produced The Unspeakable Act, directed by Dan Sallitt, which played at festivals in Sarasota, Rotterdam, and Vienna.
Dr. Kevin Hand – Dr. Kevin Hand is deputy chief scientist for Solar System Exploration at NASA. His research focuses on the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the solar system. His fieldwork involves exploring some of Earth’s most extreme environments from the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, to the depths of the Earth’s oceans, to the glaciers of Kilimanjaro.
Flora Lichtman – Flora Lichtman is a science journalist living in New York. She has worked as a video journalist for the New York Times and National Public Radio’s Science Friday and writes regularly for Popular Science magazine. She is the coauthor of Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us.
Max Mayer – Max Mayer is a founder and producing director of New York Stage and Film and has directed over 50 new plays by writers such as John Patrick Shanley, Lee Blessing, and Eric Overmyer. In addition to writing and directing Better Living and Adam, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and won the Sloan Prize, Mayer has directed As Cool as I Am and episodes of The West Wing, Alias, and Family Law and written three produced plays.
Jon Spaihts – Jon Spaihts is the screenwriter of The Darkest Hour, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, and the upcoming Passengers and The Mummy. The one-time physics student and science writer continues to specialize in science fiction.
Jill Tarter – Astronomer Jill Tarter, the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for the SETI Institute, has devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere. The lead for Project Phoenix, a decade-long SETI scrutiny of about 750 nearby star systems, she now leads SETI’s efforts to build and operate the Allen Telescope Array. A 2009 TED prize recipient, she is also the real-life researcher upon whom the Jodie Foster character in Contact is largely based.