Focus Forward, a partnership between General Electric and Cinelan, the leading publisher of short non-fiction films, has announced at an intimate breakfast at the Sundance Film Festival the launch of the Focus Forward Filmmaker Challenge, an online competition that will award $200,000 to makers of three-minute issue-oriented documentaries. Submissions will open in mid April for stories about people or organizations whose innovative efforts in medicine, computer science, robotics, engineering, green energy and other films have a significant impact on humanity and social policy. Films will be judged by a panel of film and technical experts, with the top 5 sharing varied cash prizes, as well as an opportunity to screen at next year’s Sundance Film Festival.
At this year’s Sundance, Focus Forward unveiled the first 5 completed short films in its overall program of 30 planned films. The films, all 3 minutes in length, detailed intimate stories or initiatives designed to inspire and invigorate thinking about social and economic needs. The 5 films included MEET MR. TOILET (Jessica Yu), HILARY’S STRAWS (Phil Cox), THE LANDFILL (Jessica Edwards and Gary Hustwit), HEART STOP BEATING (Jeremiah Zagar) and NEWTOWN CREEK DIGESTER EGGS (David Leitner). 25 more films will be produced in the coming year, from such renowned filmmakers as Jeff Reichert, Annie Sundberg, Ricki Stern, Lucy Walker, Liz Garbus, Barbara Kopple, Leslie Iwerks, Steve James, Alex Gibney and Cinelan co-founder Morgan Spurlock showcasing these short form social issue message films.
After Sundance, the next five completed films in the series will be showcased at the Berlin Talent Campus section of the Berlin Film Festival in February. This will be followed by additional Focus Forward films to be presented at the Tribeca and IDFA film festivals, with planned involvement in major film festivals in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and the Middle East throughout 2012. In addition, completed films and films competing for the Filmmaker Challenge will be available to be viewed on VIMEO (www.vimeo.com) . Established filmmakers or amateurs who wish to enter the Focus Forward Filmmaker Challenge can get more information on the website www.focusforwardfilms.com/challenge.