FRESH CRITICISM AND FILM JOURNALISM WILL
BE ON TAP AT THE 2015 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL WITH THE SECOND ANNUAL Indiewire®| Sundance Institute Ebert Fellowship for Film Criticism
This Year’s Fellows, Ibad Shah (Connecticut), Sterlin Johnson (Chicago), An Banh (Florida) and Anisha Jhaveri (New York), Will File Reviews and Features for Leading Industry Site Indiewire and RogerEbert.com, Network and be Mentored by Veteran Film Journalists
New York, NY (January 29, 2015) — Upstart actors, directors and producers won’t be the only industry newbies walking the streets of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Leading entertainment industry site, Indiewire, has once again partnered with the Sundance Institute’sRoger Ebert Scholarship for Film Criticism and the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation to find the next original voices in film criticism and journalism, awarding four fellowships to emerging writers.
This year’s fellows, Ibad Shah , Sterlin Johnson, An Banh and Anisha Jhaveri, who were selected based on the strength of their writing, sensibilities and professional ambition, will receive a grant for travel, housing and other expenses to attend and cover the 2015 Sundance Film Festival for Indiewire and RogerEbert.com. Over the course of the festival, this year’s participants will file reviews and features in a deadline-driven environment, reporting to Indiewire’s chief film critic and deputy editor Eric Kohn as well as other members of the Indiewire staff. They will also have the opportunity to network with working critics and other industry professionals during roundtable discussions and related events.
Additionally, each participant will be assigned a specific mentor from the film journalism community who will advise them during the festival. This year, mentors for the Sundance workshop include Film Society of Lincoln Center deputy director and Indiewire co-founder Eugene Hernandez, New York Times contributor Logan Hill, L.A. Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson and BuzzFeed’s Alison Willmore.
Ibad Shah, 23, hails from Danbury, Connecticut. At Sundance, he’s most looking forward to 99 Homes from director Ramin Bahrani, whom he calls “one of the most interesting working American filmmakers today.” He also credits “At the Movies” for being his “go-to reference for keeping track of the essential movie titles that weren’t directly targeted to young kids or only playing near” her. He said, “without learning from the show which movies I should keep up with, I would probably be left playing catch-up with a lot of the films that helped to form my tastes today”.
Being a native Chicagoan, Sterlin Johnson, 21, grew up “worshipping” Roger Ebert. At Sundance, the film student, a self-described director/screenwriter/ producer, can’t wait for Dope. He says, “I’ve been a fan of Rick Famuyiwa’s work for a very long time, and I’m excited to see his return to Sundance. With an emphasis on positive representation of the African American community, I’m excited to see how audiences react.”
23 year-old An Banh hails from Jacksonville, Florida and operates the site filmspine.com. Ebert was formative in her decision to be a critic because she grew up watching and reading his criticism and what she loved most about his work was “its accessibility, impartiality, and unfearing willingness to diverge from the general consensus.” At Sundance, she’s most looking forward to Last Days in the Desert, because “Emmanuel Lubezki is a cinematographic genius as far as I’m concerned, not to mention that the cast is fantastic.”
Finally, Anisha Jhaveri, 28, says that “from Japanese anime to Hollywood blockbusters, movies have had an indelible imprint on my upbringing; going beyond simply vehicles of entertainment there’s plenty of value in that!), they have been shapers of my own identity as well as windows into those of others.” At Sundance, the fledgling critic, who was born and raised in Japan, but now splits time between New York City and Singapore, is most looking forward to “see[ing] the end results of a screenplay developed at the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab in Mumbai (and the only South Asian film screening in competition at the festival), Umrika; and Digging for Fire.
“Roger would be so happy to know that we are continuing to sponsor emerging writers and/or filmmakers to festivals in a manner where they see their mission to add to the good in the world and to look for the solutions to connecting humanity rather than to add to the divisions,” said Chaz Ebert. “This is one such way to do that, and I am proud to be a part of it through Sundance.”
“Unlike a staid classroom setting, the Ebert Fellowship for Film Criticism is designed to actively provide a direct access point for qualified young film critics looking to advance their careers,” says Kohn. “Through this Sundance fellowship, as well as the Critics Academy initiatives we co-host at the Locarno and New York Film Festivals each year, we’ve been fortunate enough to discover and help nurture some very talented journalists during some of the industry’s most prestigious events.”
Indiewire® is the leading news, information, and networking site for independent-minded filmmakers, the industry and moviegoers alike, Indiewire launched on July 15, 1996 and re-launched with a bold new approach on January 12, 2009 from new parent company SnagFilms. Two-time winner of the Webby Award for best film website (most recently, in 2012), Indiewire was lauded as a “must read” by Variety, branded the “online heartbeat of the world’s independent film community” by Forbes, and dubbed “best indie crossroads” by film critic Roger Ebert.