Sundance Winners!

It's time to acknowledge those films that have risen to the top of their field - from what was once an independent film festival to the premiere stateside show biz extravaganza El Sundance.

DIY Filmmakers take heart.  Examine these winners.  Check out the subjects of their documentaries, search their titles and read up on what they were about - watch their trailers.  Why were they chosen? Why did they win the awards?  It's a good example of how to focus on a topic, or capture the imagination.

Certainly, the preponderance of celebrities (whatever that means) making films alters the landscape.  Having a person with national awareness brings more awareness to your project.  This of course, doesn't apply at all to the filmmakers who made "Beasts of the Southern Wild" - as they ignore that altogether completely and still have risen to the top.  So it's wonderful if you can invite a person of notoriety to be part of your film - but it's key that your story is compelling, whether scripted or not.

The trick is to make a film that a star or celebrity wishes they were in, or wishes they knew the filmmaker who made that.  The same is true for documentaries - the more interesting, arresting, different the topic - the more that it's ripped from the headlines and your heart, the further along it goes.  You can see from the films that won in the documentary category - the topics make a viewer say "I'd like to see that."

And so it goes.  We're reproducing the winners list for SUNDANCE in its entirety, so you can examine what works and what doesn't (in case you haven't already checked this out, or are just returning from there!)

The DIY Fest is coming to the end of its annual cycle for film submissions - ANYONE'S FILM THAT DOESN'T MAKE THE DEADLINE WILL BE CARRIED OVER TO THE NEXT YEAR'S DIY FILM FESTIVAL.  We have had winners come from that bunch as well - they submitted it later on, and by the time we got around to honoring it, it had already won many awards. But awards are awards.  It's great to acknowledge hard work that jumps off the screen.

We are compiling all our finalists as we speak.  The notice will go to individual filmmakers and be posted here.   Then, closer to the end of February, the final finalists will be announced, invitations to attend the gala will be sent along, and at the gala, the winners will be announced.  At the gala we will be watching the winning short films, and excerpts of the winning feature films, which are then shown at DIY Film Festival nights during the year.

Good luck to you all!

The DIY Film Fest

THIS JUST IN FROM SUNDANCE..........................................

Winner of the U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic:
Fruitvale, directed by Ryan Coogler
Standing ovation from a large portion of the crowd.
Coogler again brings his crew and cast up with him.
Coogler, nervously petting his head: “I’d like to thank all of those people again” that he thanked for the audience award. “David Lowery, stand up for me man. We formed crazy relationships with people in the labs, and at this festival. At the end of the day, when I first made this project, it was about humanity, and how we treat the people we love most and the people we don’t know. To get this means that this film made a powerful impact. This goes back to my home, the Bay area, where Oscar Grant lived for 22 years. I can’t wait to see you all when this is said and done and I’m more articulate and not so emotional.”
Gordon-Levitt concludes the ceremony, thanks us all, and sets the party part of the evening off. To recap, that was a double win, Audience and Grand Jury Prizes for both US Documentary Blood Brother and US Dramatic Film Fruitvale. Thanks to everyone out there who followed along on
Winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary:
Blood Brother, directed by Steve Hoover
Hoover: “Sorry I might cry a little bit.”
Rocky, the film’s subject: “Man it is so encouraging. For the kids, that is so awesome. Because they’re lives are so challenging. And no one remembers their names. To take their stories and everyone can see them.”
Hoover: “Seeing Rocky’s life blew me away. Can’t wait to see the difference we can make in the world because of this.”
 Gordon-Levitt introduces juror and former Fox Chairman Tom Rothman.
Rothman: “I was at the very first festival, and it was just like this,” he says sarcastically. “For sure. Alright. Now, the big enchilada. For those who think that films can’t make a difference in the world, I present to you…”
Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic: 
In A World…, written by Lake Bell
Bell, in a black leather dress and updo: “I think I might be Polish,” patting her heart. “I guess I’m going through puberty as well. Thank you Sundance for giving me continued encouragement to have the balls to do this.”
Gordon-Levitt: “I saw that one too. Really fucking good.” Then introduces juror Liz Garbus.
Winner of the Directing Award: U.S. Documentary:
Cutie and the Boxer, directed by Zachary Heinzerling
Heinzerling: “So many people to thank, unfortunately most of them are back home. I drove most of them crazy – this took about five years.” Thanks his mom and dad, and the two main subjects of the film. Thanks those who gave the film money, which was funded purely on grants.
Gordon-Levitt introduces juror (and filmmaker and actor) Ed Burns, whose The Brothers McMullin won here in 1995.
Burns: “It has been a long time” since I’ve been here “and it has been ten great days.”
Winner of the Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic:
Afternoon Delight, directed by Jill Soloway 
Soloway sings Hava Nagila, echoing/calling back to Sebastian Silva. “Guys this crazy.” Thanks her producers, her cast and crew. “I want to thank some of the other lady directors who are here. We‘re all out there together exposing ourselves, and I love you guys.” They’re all heard hooting and hugging back stage after they leave.
Gordon-Levitt introduces juror Davis Guggenheim.
Guggenheim: “It was a profound experience to share this with my fellow jurors. This film shook us to our core.”
Updated 8:19 PM
Winner of the Audience: U.S. Documentary:  
Blood Brother, directed by Steve Hoover
Hoover: “I understand this whole heart beating thing. It’s been great to connect with you guys with this thing.” All of our profits are going to help Rocky and his efforts against orphans with H.I.V.
Winner of the Audience Award: Dramatic:
Fruitvale, Ryan Coogler
Coogler ascends the stage with over a dozen cast and crewmembers: “I can’t say enough what an incredible experience going through the labs was.” He also thanks his fellow filmmakers for how they’ve affected his life. 
“I fucking loved that movie,” says Gordon-Levitt.
Gordon-Levitt introduces juror Diane Weyermann, the former Director of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program and currently Participant Media’s Executive Vice President overseeing documentary production, executive producing such Sundance hits as An Inconvenient TruthChicago 10 and Waiting For Superman.
Winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award:
Inequality for All, directed by Jacob Kornbluth
Kornbluth: “An honor to have worked with such an amazing person as Robert Reich.” Hoping Reich’s ideas get out into the world. Thanks his wife who’s carrying “our unborn child in your womb.”
Winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award:
American Promise, directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson
Brewster: “Michelle you’ve been my spokesmodel for 13 years” and asks here to accept for the film. Stephenson thanks the boys who are the subjects of the film, as well as the schools and families that made it possible.
Gordon-Levitt introduces juror Clare Stewart, Head of Exhibition for the British Film Institute. 
Stewart: “This has been an exceptional festival” and thanks Cooper and Groth for it. To filmmakers: “Huge kudos to you all.” 
The U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting:
Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now
The actors aren’t here, so director James Ponsoldt accepts.
The U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Sound Design:
Upstream Color, Shane Carruth and Johnny Marshall
Carruth: “We spent such a lot of time with this, and it’s such an integral part of the narrative. I’m so grateful to be here. The film is really ambitious and to have it received by filmmakers and people who are into film literature is the biggest gift.”
Gordon-Levitt introduces juror Brett Morgan:
Morgan: “Anyone who’s ever shot a documentary knows it’s asking a lot to even hold the camera steady. But this is one of the most stunning documentaries I’ve ever seen.”
Winner of the Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary:
Dirty Wars, cinematography by Richard Rowley
Rowley: “Almost three years ago when we knocked on a door in Gardez, Afghanistan, we were the first filmmakers they’d seen since Americans kicked in their doors and murdered members of their family.” But he promised to tell their stories, and thanks Sundance, “for allowing us to keep that promise.”
Winner of the Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic:
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Mother of George, cinematography by Bradford Young
David Lowery accepts along with Dosunmu, and has Young on the cell phone: “He says thank you so much. He’s like a brother to me, I couldn’t have made this film without him.”
Gordon-Levitt introduces juror Gary Hustwit.
Hustwit: “Your film is only as strong as your editor is.”
Winner of the Editing Award: U.S. Documentary:
Gideon’s Army, edited by Matthew Hamachek
Hamachek: “I’m not Zen at all right now.” Thanks his director and producers, who flank him.
Updated 7:55 PM
Time for the Audience Awards.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt returns, saying the NEXT section is devoted to films of pure, bold innovative storytelling. Digital technology paired with unfettered creativity promises that these films signal a “greater” next wave in American Cinema. Slide Show of NEXT films.
Gordon-Levitt awards this one himself.
Winner of the Audience Award: Best of NEXT:
This is Martin Bonner, directed by Chad Hartigan (U.S.)   
Hartigan: “I’m really proud to be part of the NEXT section. A very humbling experience.” Calls up members of the cast. “If you responded to this film it was because of them.”
Gordon-Levitt: “Our next two presenters are here with the film Running From Crazy which is playing in the Documentary Premieres Section. Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award–winning director who is the only filmmaker to ever sweep the Sundance Film Festival’s documentary award categories. Mariel Hemingway is an activist and an Oscar-nominated actress who has starred in such films as Woody Allen’s ManhattanPersonal Best and Star 80. Please welcome Barbara Kopple and Mariel Hemingway.”
Kopple: “As filmmakers, we live for our films to be seen by audiences. When we hear people laugh and are moved, it means everything to us. It’s what it’s all about.”
Winner of the Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary:
The Square, directed by Jehane Noujaim
Noujaim calls up her extended crew, then says: “It was a true collaboration. My incredible amazing team who I love so much.”
Hemingway present the next award, and thanks Sundance for including Running From Crazy in the festival.
Winner of the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic:
Metro Manila, directed by Sean Ellis (U.K./Philippines) 
Ellis, also bringing his cast and crew on stage: “I’m so glad that this film connected with everyone. I’d like to dedicate this to my mum, who passed away last year. Mum, this is for you.”
Hemingway introduces a slide Show of Films in U. S. Documentary and Dramatic Competition
Updated 7:47 PM
Gordon-Levitt returns to the stage to introduce the World Cinema Dramatic Jury, comprised of Joana Vicente, Executive Director of the IFP and producer of 20 films that have premiered at Sundance including Welcome to the Dollhouse and Broken English, Nadine Labaki, the renowned Lebanese director and star of Cannes film Festival hits Caramel, and Where Do We Go Now?, and Anurag Kashyap, one of the leading directors of India’s New Wave of Cinema whose two-part film Gangs of Wasseypur played in the Spotlight section at Sundance this year.
Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award 
Circles, directed by Srdan Golubovic
Golubovic: “Especially I would like to thank my crew. You supported me all of those years. It was not easy with me. Thank you.”
Winner of the Cinematography Award: World Cinema Dramatic:
Lasting, cinematography by Michal Englert
Director Jacek Borcuch: “I’m also from Poland and my heart is also [beating] very hard.”
Winner of the Screenwriting Award: World Cinema Dramatic 
Wajma (An Afghan Love Story)written by Barmak Akram
Akram, looking damn dapper in a blazer, turtleneck, specs, and trim beard: “Thank you to Sundance for supporting Afghani film and Afghani women. In Afghanistan they love American films and now Americans love afghan films.”
Winner of the Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic:
Crystal Fairy, directed by Sebastian Silva
Silva’s not in attendance, but there’s a video. Silva: “Really thrilled but I don’t want to give a boring speech. This is something I’ve always wanted to do but don’t even ask why.” He distorts his image to the tune of and sings Hava Nagila. Exeunt.
The following was a unanimous decision by the Jury. Took “one minute” to choose, according to Labaki.
Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic:
Jisuel, directed by Muel O (South Korea)   
Also a video acceptance from Muel O.: "I would love to share the honor with the people of the Jeju Island. I want to share this glory..."
Updated 7:38 PM:
Gordon Levitt is back on stage to show a highlight reel of films in the World Cinema categories. Then he introduces the World Cinema Documentary Jury. Members include the former Director of Programming at Hot Docs, Sean Farnel, Enat Sidi, who won the editing award last year for her work on the film Detropia, and Bob Hawk, a veteran consultant to filmmakers and film festivals who produced such Sundance films as Ballet Russes and Trick.
Farnel: “Thanks to all of the filmmakers for their commitment to a film form that’s exciting and necessary.”
Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award:  
Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer, directed by Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin (Russian Federation/U.K.)    
Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin: “This is an incredible honor and a great prize. Thanks to the BritDoc that supported this film so well. Masha, Nasdia and Katya started a feminist revolution that we hope continues throughout the world. Let’s make it happen.” 
Winner of the Cinematography Award: World Cinema Documentary 
Who Is Dayani Cristal?, cinematography by Marc Silver and Pau Esteve Birba (U.K.)
Marc Silver: “My heart’s beating faster than our Polish friend. Want to thank whoever invented the Cannon EOS 7D – I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for that.”
Winner of the Editing Award: World Cinema Documentary:
The Summit, edited by Ben Stark (Ireland/U.K.)
Nick Ryan, director: “He would be so pleased to get this. It was a 12 month process but it was worth it. Everyone worked so hard. It was a complex story."
Winner of the Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary: 
The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, directed by Tinatin Gurchiani (Georgia/Germany)
Gurchiani: “I’ve had a lot of fun. I hope the film is better than my English.
Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary:                                                                        
A River Changes Course, directed by Kalyanee Mam
Mam: “We’re so shocked. This film is about family, a universal film. Not just about globalization but about our connection with each other. Events like these bring our communities together, to celebrate the beauty of our world.” 
Short Film Special Jury Award:
Until the Quiet Comes directed by Kahlil Joseph.
Short Film Special Jury Award for Acting:
Joel Nagle for his work in the film Palimpsest.
Short Film Jury Award: Animation:
Irish Folk Furniture directed by Tony Donoghue.
Short Film Jury Award: Non-Fiction
Skinningrove directed by Michael Almereyda.
Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction
The Date directed by Jenni Toiyoniemi.
Short Film Jury Award: US Fiction
Whiplash directed by Damien Chazelle. 
Short Film Grand Jury Prize:
The Whistle directed by Grzegorz Zariczny.
Zariczny, who wasn’t able to attend Tuesday night’s ceremony, claims the award tonight. 
Zariczny: “My heart is beating very fast now, like jungle drums. It’s something special for me. Thank you to all my friends in Poland who helped me when I didn’t have enough strength to finish my film.”
Then Groth calls us Lee Hunter from YouTube, who announces the winner of this year’s Audience Award, chosen from among 12 films that played on YouTube’s Screening Room channel during the Festival. Hunter says the films received more than 2 million views, averaging over 175,000 views per film. 
Winner of the 2013 Shorts Audience Award, presented by YouTube:
Catnip: Egress to Oblivion directed by Jason Willis

Congrats to the Oscar nominees!

Congrats to all your hard working filmmakers that have climbed the ladder of fame.

We at the DIY Film Festival wanted to give a shout out to Benh Zeitlin, the director of "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

Benh Zeitlin,, Director "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Also to point your attention to these two interviews, conducted at Sundance just after his screening of his film (which was finished two days prior).  Some notable points are made - that the film was shot in 16mm, that it was shot by him and his friends who work as a collective in New Orleans, that it was populated by a cast of locals, that there was no CGI, no special effects, or at least nothing out of the ordinary, except, of course, figuring out how to make wart hogs look like giants.

Here's part one of the interview done by Anne Thompson: of IndieWire:

And here is part two.

For all intents and purposes, this was a completely DIY Film project.  Using creativity, local actors, local resources, (as well as putting the project through the Sundance development process where Benh was able to benefit from discussing all of his choices, as well as then being able to come back to the festival with a project that they had helped along), by going through that process, Benh's film has elbowed its way into the big budget pictures playing field - his nomination shoved aside Ben Affleck and Kathtryn Bigelow, who until the nominees were announced, were shoe-ins for Oscar nominations  Except for the fact that this New Yorker decided to move New Orleans and decided to make a post apocalyptic film about part of Louisiana that is being swalled up by climate change with his collective of creative DIY minded friends.  Congratulations!!!

Write what you know, film what moves you.  Good things can come to you.

Our motto for the day here at the DIY Film Fest. 


Happy 2013 from the DIY Film Fest!!!

Wow. Time flies when you're having fun.
Tapping a wrist; universal sign for "Hurry Up!"

Speaking of TIME - it's getting to be that time of year as we gear up for the annual DIY Film Festival Gala at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood in March.

But first things first... the DIY FILM FESTIVAL will accept entries up until Monday Feb, 11th, 2013 - finalists will be notified by or around Feb 18th to give filmmakers who can attend the gala, time to get their reservations in order.

We are an annual fest which presents screenings at local venues during the year, and then a screening of finalists prior to the Gala and then excerpts are shown at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel - (if you're film arrives after the deadline, it will be rolled over into the following year's fest.)  We've had some amazing winners that have submitted their films the last day of the festival, as well as the first day of the festival.  Not to worry, but if you're film is ready, now is the time to submit it. Our submission address (which is listed at, our exclusive way to enter the festival).  But if you lose the address, or misplace it:


Deep Roy gettings his 2011 film award at the Roosevelt
We have some amazing films from around the world this year - from as far away as India and Romania, from young and old filmmakers across the country and planet who felt the desire, need and passion to tell a great story.  Each year we honor some amazing films, amazing filmmakers.  AVID has been sponsoring us for a number of years now, and a million thanks for their support.
We haven't had a youtube cat film yet - there's still time!.

Roosevelt Gala of 2012
So if you're film is nearly finished, get to work!  Be courageous, be daring, have fun.  Take a look at some of the amazing entries that are posted along this page - they're fantastic films, dramas, shorts, comedies - from all stripes, from all walks of life.  DIY filmmakers follow the tenet that an artist doesn't need wheelbarrows of money to tell a compelling story.  We look forward, once again, to honoring them.

Could be you!
Good luck!  Break a reel!  Or a DVD!  Throw caution to the wind, but your back into it, put your heart into it, and good will come of it.

Happy New Year from DIY!