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April 9, 2020



  • Nine Days wins Producer’s Vision Award
  • Once Upon A River and Donut King score One in A Million Awards
  • Ford announces four finalists for $25,000 Ford Producers Grant

Sun Valley, ID…. The 2020 Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF), presented by Ford, announced its juried film award winners. The Festival, which had been scheduled to take place March 18-22, 2020, was cancelled due to Covid-19 on March 12, but still awarded numerous prizes and mentorship opportunities to independent filmmakers whose films were either confirmed to screen or were eligible for prizes.

Film Awards

Producer’s Vision Award – This award recognizes a producer’s ability to keep a dramatic, feature length film in focus during the journey of the project. All feature films eligible.

WINNER: Nine Days, producer Jason Michael Berman

One in a Million Awards – The One in a Million Awards honor feature length stories made for under one million dollars. One narrative and one documentary film are each awarded.

NARRATIVE WINNER: Once Upon A River, directed by Haroula Rose

DOCUMENTARY WINNER: Donut King, directed by Alice Gu

The SVShorty Award – The best short film across all categories. All shorts eligible.

WINNER: Titanyum, directed by Gökçe Erdem

Gem State Award –  This award recognizes the Idaho-made film that best reflects the beauty and diversity of the Gem State.

WINNER: Whitetail Bucks, directed by Derek Tonks

Soho House Award – This award recognizes the winner of the Soho House 2019 Script House

WINNER: Coffee Shop Names, directed by Deepak Sethi

LUNA Bar Woman to Watch Award – In partnership with LUNA Bar, this award recognizes an emerging female filmmaker with a promising future ahead of her. Female-directed feature films eligible.

WINNER: For Walter and Josiah, directed by Jamie Elias


SVFF Film & Screenwriting Competition Winners

Ford Producers Grant – In partnership with Ford Motor Company, four producers have been selected to participate in Ford PitchFest for the opportunity to receive a $25,000 grant to take their in-development film one big step closer to reality. Finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their projects online to a panel of judges. The launch of this grant continues to showcase Ford’s long-standing commitment to the entertainment industry and its rising filmmakers.

FINALISTS: Picking Cotton – Jessica Sanders, Rocket Night – Scott Taylor, Foreign – Mariyam Mahbub, Memphis – Ben Edelman

Nat Geo Further Award – The National Geographic Further Award recognizes a leader whose work is uniquely innovative, timely, and impactful—someone who has boldly pushed the boundaries of his or her field, and who serves as an outstanding ambassador for that breakthrough work.

WINNER: Ann Druyan, creator, writer, director and executive producer of Cosmos

The Film Lab – Tito’s Handmade Vodka presented The Film Lab, judged by Academy Award winner Peter Farrelly. Winners of the competition participated in a work-in-progress screening with the Austin Film Society in October 2019, before locking and completing the picture with Los Angeles-based post-production companies Formosa and Picture Shop, who provided up to $185,000 in services. Variety is a partner of the program.

WINNER: My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To, directed by Jonathan Cuartas, produced by Kenny Oiwa Riches, Anthony Pedone, Jesse Brown, Ian Peterson, Patrick Fugit

High Scribe – The competition, presented by Submittable and judged by Academy Award winner Stephen Gaghan, gives finalists an opportunity for one-on-one meetings with some of the industry’s finest to discuss their work; the winner receives mentoring from an experienced professional.

WINNER: Minor Modifications, written by Shia LaBeouf

1 Potato Winner – With collaborating sponsor Jack’s Urban Meeting Place in Boise (JUMP), the short screenplay competition awards the screenwriter a $5,000 stipend to help shoot their film in Idaho.

WINNER: Dust, written by Dwayne Blackaller, Matthew Cameron Clark and Cody Gittings

Future Filmmaker Forum – Showcases student-made films and encourages students in their craft, storytelling, and self-expression.

Hot Shot Winner: Peter Daniels: A Child Survivor of Theresienstadt, by Alex Ankai, Fiona Fortunato, Keila McCabe, Idalis McZeal, Anahy Portillo

Gem State Jr. Award: Ski Season Transitions, by Justin Maxwell



About the Sun Valley Film Festival & Sun Valley Film Initiative

Since 2012 the Sun Valley Film Festival has invited fans and filmmakers to America’s first ski resort to celebrate the magic of storytelling. The year-round Sun Valley Film Initiative develops professionals and Illuminates the process of filmmaking, propelling emerging voices with grants and education. Each March, the Festival celebrates with a slate of cutting-edge films and TV premieres, industry panels, engaging Coffee Talks with entertainment luminaries, a Screenwriters Lab led by award-winning writers, and a series of parties culminating with the spectacular SVFF Awards Bash. SVFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Learn more at sunvalleyfilmfestival.org.

Get Festival updates on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.


Media Contacts:

Steven Wilson, Scenario, steven.wilson@scenariopr.com

Carol Waller, CW Communications, carol@cw-communications.com

Images available for download at https://sunvalleyfilmfestival.org/press-photos/