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By Film Threat Staff | December 5, 2001

Perrier has taken a stake in independent film with the establishment of The Perrier Bubbling Under Award for first-time feature directors. The award acknowledges and honors the tremendous effort a director must make to bring their first feature to the screen.
Jurors selected Eva Gardos, director of “An American Rhapsody,” as the grand-prize winner of The Perrier Bubbling Under Award at a ceremony in New York City last night. Perrier screened the award-winning, critically and audience acclaimed film, “An American Rhapsody,” at the Quad Cinema where Gardos was awarded the grand prize, a $50,000 grant that is to be applied toward her next production. Following the screening, filmmakers, jurors and special guests gathered to celebrate at Pipa, New York’s hottest Spanish Tapas restaurant, and danced to the DJ stylings of Anita Sarko.
Attorney/Executive producer John Sloss (“Boys Don’t Cry”), Director Brad Anderson (“Next Stop Wonderland”), Director Rose Troche (“Go Fish”) and Editor in Chief of Indiewire Eugene Hernandez served as jurors to select the grand prize winner.
Based upon Gardos’ own life story, “An American Rhapsody” weaves a tale of love, forgiveness and a search for home. On the cusp of the Soviet invasion of Budapest in 1956, one family escapes Communist Hungary and flees to America, forced to leave behind their infant daughter. The young girl is raised by a loving Hungarian peasant family and is treated as their own. At the age of six, she is brought to America by her mother and grows up strong willed to find her roots. With two histories and two lives, she is torn apart by her divided loyalties. Only when she travels to Budapest alone, does she find the answers to lifelong questions about her identity and heritage. Golden Globe Award winner Nastassja Kinski stars as Margit, the upper-class Hungarian mother who is forced to flee to the suburbs of California; Tony Goldwyn is her husband Peter, who negotiates their escape through a series of unscrupulous officers and profiteers; and Scarlett Johansson is the teen-aged Suzanne, who must make her own daring escape from America to figure out where she really belongs.
Perrier partnered with the Hamptons International Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, Florida Film Festival, Taos Talking Picture Festival and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to select five finalists.
The five finalists that were in consideration for The Perrier Bubbling Under Award:
– Joseph M. Castelo, director of AMERICAN SAINT, selected from the 9th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF), October 17-21, 2001
– Eva Gardos, director of AN AMERICAN RHAPSODY, selected from the 6th Annual Nantucket Film Festival (NFF), June 20-24, 2001
– Joel Hopkins, director of JUMP TOMORROW, selected from the 10th Annual Florida Film Festival, June 8-17, 2001
– Randy Redroad, director of THE DOE BOY, selected from the 7th Annual Taos Talking Picture Festival, April 5-8, 2001
– Rosemary Rodriguez, director of ACTS OF WORSHIP, selected from the 16th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, March 1-11, 2001
“We feel The Bubbling Under Award has truly exceeded expectations for its first year,” said Elena Paraskeva, Marketing Manager—International Brands for Perrier. “We’re grateful and encouraged by the enthusiastic response of both the festival and independent film communities to the Award. We join the jury in congratulating the finalists and Ms. Gardos on their achievements. We look forward to continuing our support of independent film.”
Co-Presidents of Paramount Classics Ruth Vitale and David Dinerstein commented, “We were so pleased when audiences and critics shared their enthusiasm for An ‘American Rhapsody.’ To now receive this grand prize honor is really a testament to Eva who found a universal story through her personal triumph. It is a magnificent film with incredible performances. What a wonderful accomplishment for Eva.”
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