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Sundance Institute, Sandbox Films Set 2022 Sandbox Fund Grantees

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EXCLUSIVE: The Sundance Institute and Sandbox Films have announced the 10 projects and filmmaking teams selected as the latest recipients of grants from the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund.

The fund offers grants to projects in stages ranging from development to post-production, along with engagement events and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative nonfiction storytelling. The 10 selected project teams will receive non-recoupable grants totaling $300,000, also claiming bespoke film support and joining Sundance Institute’s year-round artist community, with opportunities to connect with Sundance’s network of alumni and creative advisors, as well as Sandbox Films’ roster of renowned scientists.

“Since its inception five years ago, the Sundance Institute | Sandbox Fund has vitally enriched the Documentary Film Program by allowing our team to extend its support to artists pushing the boundaries of the documentary form by exploring unique connections between art and science,” said Paola Mottura, who serves as Director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Fund. “Our grantees have inspired new audiences to reimagine the definition of ‘science film’ by challenging common preconceptions about the scientific process, who does science and what it means to be a scientist. Our latest cohort of grantees is no exception in brilliance and ambition.”

“We continue to be so impressed by the quality and diversity of projects applying to this fund,” added Sandbox Films’ Head of Production and Development, Jessica Harrop. “Partnering with the talented team at Sundance has helped us connect with and support artists who have unique ways of exploring the art and beauty that can come out of nontraditional science storytelling.”

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Past projects supported by grants from the Sandbox Fund include All Light, Everywhere, which won the 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize for Nonfiction Experimentation; Herbaria, which premiered at the 2022 Visions du Réel; Users, which also premiered at Sundance 2021; and Wildcat, which was acquired last year by Amazon Studios and more recently premiered at Telluride. 

Information on the latest set of Sandbox grantees, broken down by production stage, can be found below.

DEVELOPMENT

Climate in Therapy (Sweden, Norway)
Directors: Nathan Grossman, Olof Berglind 
Producer: Cecilia Nessen

Climate in Therapy is a feature documentary that follows seven climate scientists as they confront a previously unknown field of study: their own emotions.

Conscious (U.K.)
Director: Suki Chan
Producers: Aimara Reques, Teresa Grimes, Suki Chan

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Conscious is a hopeful and cinematic experience, taking us closer to understanding the strength and frailty of the human mind. Using mesmerizing visuals, textured sounds, and compelling stories, the film takes the audience on an immersive and illuminating journey into other minds. What can a neuroscientist and three people living with dementia tell us about consciousness in a technological age?

My Mom, The Scientist (U.S.A., Tanzania)
Director: Thomas Allen Harris
Producers: Thomas Allen Harris, Don Perry

Facing unprecedented global threats from new viruses and geopolitical competitors, America is in crisis as it grapples with the issue of why, after 30 years of effort, there are still too few Black & BIPOC scientists in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields to help secure its future competitiveness.

Postmortem (U.S.A.)
Director: Marilyn Ness
Producer: Beth Levison

Postmortem is at once a personal memoir, true crime, and cultural interrogation. Filming the behind-the-scenes experience of staging the Postmortem stage play, we expose another layer: the true story beneath the art, and the ways rigorous artistic creation can reveal deeper, collective truths.

Second Nature (U.S.A., Netherlands, Congo, Uganda) 
Director: Drew Denny
Producer: Jennifer Steinman-Sternin

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Did you know clownfish change sex, penguins parent in same-sex pairs, and bonobos (our closest relatives) are matriarchal? Debunking myths that females are “inferior” and being queer is somehow “unnatural,” Second Nature follows LGBTQ scientists who prove that nature is far more diverse than we’ve been taught.

Untitled Animal Project (U.S.A.) 
Director: Jessica Kingdon
Producers: Jamie Gonçalves, Nathan Truesdell

Untitled Animal Project explores contemporary global supply chains through the lens of the animal experience. Through multiple locations around the world, the film weaves the ways in which food industries affect various species – with a focus on exploring the elusive idea of animal sentience. 

Untitled Thwaites Film (Antarctica, U.S.A.) 
Director: Emelie Mahdavian
Producers: John D. Sutter, Emelie Mahdavian

How do you watch the climate crisis unfold without losing hope? Untitled Thwaites Film tells the story of a small, female-led research team’s last trip to a vulnerable Antarctic ice sheet.

PRODUCTION 

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The Queendom (Mexico) 
Director: Otilia Portillo Padua
Producers: Paula Arroio, Otilia Portillo, Elena Fortes

Three Mexican women—all indigenous scientists and activists—partner with mushrooms to fight for their lands and cultures. The Queendom combines documentary with science fiction to explore the perspectives of both the humans and their most powerful allies: the fungi.

POST-PRODUCTION 

Brigidy Bram: The Kendal Hanna Story (Bahamas, U.S.A.)
Directors: Laura Gamse, Kareem Mortimer
Producers: Kareem Mortimer, Laura Gamse

In this intimate portrait circling fact and fiction, the true story of prolific painter Kendal Hanna reveals a case study of how we codify genius.

Fire of Love (U.S.A., Canada)
Director: Sara Dosa
Producers: Shane Boris, Ina Fichman, Sara Dosa

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Fire of Love is an unexpected love story of two intrepid scientists – Katia and Maurice Krafft – who die in a volcanic explosion doing the very thing that brought them together: seeking to understand the mystery of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded. Poetic in style and playful in spirit, Fire of Love uses the Kraffts’ spectacular archives to chart a story of creation and destruction, of nature and humanity, and of Maurice and Katia’s love – both for each other and the planet. Premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival where it received the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary 



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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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