EXCLUSIVE : The Gotham Film & Media Institute has unveiled the winners of its fourth annual Focus Features & JetBlue Student Short Film Showcase. The five filmmakers chosen are Saleem Gondal ( Post Term , Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema), Yingtong Li ( The Silent Whistle , Emerson College), Taylor Mannsman ( Obscura , University of Texas at Austin), Shannon M. Sutherland ( They Flew Like Blackbirds , Florida State University) and Cheryl Wong ( Stigma, Style , NYU).
The Gotham's Short Film Showcase aims to discover and empower a diverse group of emerging filmmakers, and to foster multi-platform distribution of their work. Winners of this year's showcase, supported by returning partners JetBlue and Focus Features, as well as new partner Soho House, had their works selected by a jury of filmmakers, curators and critics, with shorts from 23 graduate schools having been submitted. Each was recognized during the 2022 Gotham Awards Ceremony on November 28, received a $10,000 grant, and will have their films shown for 12 months on JetBlue's seatback entertainment systems under the "Gotham Selects" movie category, as well as on Focus Features' digital streaming platforms. Winners will also receive ongoing mentorship and workshopping opportunities from The Gotham throughout 2023.
Sutherland's win for They Flew Like Blackbirds marks the first for a student from Florida State University. Schools participating in the fourth annual showcase, in addition to the aforementioned, include CalArts, Chapman University, Columbia College Chicago, Columbia University, Georgia State University, Howard University, Loyola Marymount University, New York Film Academy, Sacred Heart University, San Francisco State University, Stony Brook University, Syracuse University, The City College of New York, The New School, The University of Texas at Austin, UCLA, University of Miami, and USC.
"Covering a broad range of genres and new subjects, the wildly imaginative work from these incredible up and coming talents assures me that the future of film is in good hands," said The Gotham's Executive Director, Jeffrey Sharp. "Inclusive mentorship and early career support are pillars of The Gotham community and we relish the opportunity to help young filmmakers find their footing in this industry. We're grateful for the continued support of our loyal partners, JetBlue and Focus Features, along with our new partner Soho House, and their commitment to this pivotal program."
"Beyond championing these films on our platforms, this program provides invaluable mentorship that will empower the winning filmmakers to reach their boundless potential," remarked Focus Features Chairman Peter Kujawski and Vice Chairman Jason Cassidy in a joint statement. "Focus is committed to championing the next generation of bold storytellers and we look forward to continuing this partnership with The Gotham for many years to come."
Added JetBlue's Director of Product Development, Mariya Stoyanova: "At JetBlue, we believe that entertainment is more than an opportunity for enjoyment, but another avenue for discovery, education and connection to the world. We are proud to continue our partnership with The Gotham Film & Media Institute, and look forward to sharing the next generation of filmmakers' award-winning stories in the skies."
Said Soho House's Global Film & Entertainment Director, Jo Addy, in closing: "As an organization, bringing together and supporting creatives is in our DNA. We're delighted to support The Gotham and this remarkable program. At Soho House locations worldwide, we're genuinely excited to screen these extraordinary pieces of film from young creatives who are just starting their careers."
Among the notable alumni of the Focus Features & JetBlue Student Short Film Showcase is Saim Sadiq, whose acclaimed film Joyland was selected as the Pakistani entry for Best International Feature at the 95th Academy Awards. After making the shortlist of 15 international features that advanced to the nomination voting stage, Joyland was picked up for U.S. distribution by Oscilloscope Laboratories. The film will be released later this year.
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