On February 22, 2023, Creo announced the winners for the first edition of the Sony Future Filmmaker Awards during a black-tie awards ceremony at the Cary Grant Theatre on the historic Sony Pictures Studio lot in Culver City, California. Entertainment Tonight’s correspondent Denny Directo served as the evening’s host. Thirty filmmakers were shortlisted across six categories, with six winners announced on the night. All filmmakers are awarded a trip to Los Angeles to take part in the ceremony, followed by an exclusive two-day industry immersion experience led by Sony Pictures executives. Winners additionally receive a range of cash prizes and Sony Digital Imaging equipment.
The Filmmaker competition elevates original voices that bring a fresh perspective to storytelling. In addition to their trip to L.A. and attendance in the workshop program, the three category winners each receive an FX9 Cinema Line Camera (plus lens) and $5,000 (USD).
In the Fiction category, the winner was presented by Nicole Brown, President of TriStar Pictures:
- Dan Thorburn (UK), Salt Water Town – With the threat of closure looming over a failing caravan park, the owner and his son clash over their future, with tragic consequences.
In the Non-Fiction category, the winner was presented by Nekesa Moody, Editorial Director of The Hollywood Reporter:
- Daniela Lucato (Italy), The Things You Don’t Know About Me, Mom – A survivor of the Pinochet regime in Chile imagines telling her mother all the things that she didn’t want to know.
The Environment category is run in association with Sony Pictures Television’s “Picture This” initiative, which champions creativity that communicates a positive future for the planet. The award was presented by Andi Gitow, Chief of Advocacy, Entertainment Industry and Civil Society Engagement at the United Nations (UN):
- Pedro Furtado (Brazil), The Good Dolphins – Fishermen in Brazil fight to save a pod of dolphins who have helped them catch fish across generations.
The Student Filmmaker competition recognizes talent who will soon shape the industry. In addition to their trip to L.A. and attendance in the workshop program, the two category winners each receive an FX6 Cinema Line Camera (plus lens).
In the Fiction category, the winner was presented by Cynthia Littleton, Co-Editor-in-Chief at Variety:
- Mateo Salas (Colombia, Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia), The Sun of the River – A family’s journey takes a troubling turn when they are stopped by a group of paramilitaries.
In the Non-Fiction category, the winner was presented by Yosuke Aoki, Head of Imaging Products & Solutions Marketing Div., Sony Corporation:
- Seonghoon Eric Park (Republic of Korea, Boston University, USA), In Cod We Trust – A film probing the endangered fishing trade in the New England town of Gloucester, home to one of the oldest and largest fishing communities in the United States.
The Future Format competition challenges filmmakers to respond to a new technical brief each year. This year, submissions were to be exclusively shot on a smartphone. In addition to their trip to L.A. and attendance in the workshop program, the category winner also receives a range of Sony’s Digital Imaging equipment and $2,500 (USD).
The winner was presented by Neal Manowitz, President and COO, Sony Electronics, Sony US:
- Pan Tianhong (China Mainland), Homework for Winter Vacation – A child making sweet dumplings in preparation for the Chinese New Year completes his task in a very creative manner.
The 30 shortlisted filmmakers and winners were chosen by a panel of leading industry experts chaired by award-winning British theater, television and film director Justin Chadwick (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Other Boleyn Girl, Tulip Fever). In addition, this inaugural jury comprised leading and celebrated figures from the film industry, including Nicole Brown, President of TriStar Pictures (The Woman King, Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical); Jeremy Barber, Partner, Motion Picture Literary and Talent, United Talent Agency; and Sir Roger A. Deakins, Academy Award winning cinematographer (Blade Runner 2049, Skyfall, 1917).
Nicole Brown, President of TriStar Pictures, championed: “I was so impressed by the breadth and diversity of the submissions from such an incredibly talented generation of new filmmakers. The amount of passion and creativity was astounding and made the task of narrowing it down no small feat! I’m looking forward to seeing where all their careers take them as they all have so much potential to go the distance in their careers.”
Sir Roger A. Deakins, Academy Award-winning cinematographer, lauded: “It was a pleasure to be on the jury of the Sony Future Filmmaker Awards this year. My collaborator and wife, James, and I always enjoy seeing the work of new filmmakers. We spend a lot of time supporting upcoming talent through our website, podcast, and YouTube channel (Team Deakins). We were pleased to be a part of this programme that hopefully will translate into new opportunities for emerging filmmakers. We loved that the scope of the entries was so wide, including submissions from the UK, Italy, Korea, Colombia, and Brazil. We firmly believe that there is a lot of promising talent out there and enjoyed being a part of recognizing this through these awards.”
Jeremy Barber, Partner, Motion Picture Literary and Talent, United Talent Agency, offered: “I was happy to participate in the first jury for the Sony Future Filmmaker Awards and to get to see the films from up-and-coming filmmakers from such diverse backgrounds. Hopefully, this year’s winners will inspire next year’s winners and beyond.”
Following the ceremony, the attending shortlisted filmmakers and winners will participate in a two-day industry immersion program of workshops and panels led by Sony Pictures executives, which include Producing, Editing & VFX, Business Affairs, Theatrical Marketing, Acquisitions and more. Winners additionally receive exclusive access to Sony’s state-of-the-art Digital Media Production Center (DMPC).
Jeffrey Godsick, Executive Vice President, Global Partnerships & Brand Management, Head of Location Based Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, said of the workshop program, “With the goal to inspire and encourage these future filmmakers, we are excited for Sony Pictures to lead participants in a series of workshops that will focus on making and releasing feature films from the development process through marketing and distribution.”
Established by Creo and sponsored by Sony as a major new annual awards program for short films, the Sony Future Filmmaker Awards set out to elevate original voices from around the globe with a fresh perspective on storytelling. The inaugural competition ran from July 26 through December 13, 2022, drawing a huge response: over 4,000 films by more than 3,000 filmmakers in 140 countries. Thirty films were shortlisted in six categories: Filmmaker Fiction; Filmmaker Non-Fiction; Filmmaker Environment; Student Filmmaker Fiction; Student Filmmaker Non-Fiction; and Future Format.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WINNERS AND THE SHORTLISTED FILMMAKERS, PLEASE VISIT SONYFUTUREFILMMAKERAWARDS.COM