Winston Duke and Zazie Beetz star in Nine Days by Edson Oda
Winston Duke and Zazie Beetz star in Nine Days by Edson Oda

The 2020 Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF), which had been scheduled to take place in March, but was cancelled due to Covid-19, still awarded numerous prizes and mentorship opportunities to independent filmmakers whose films were either confirmed to screen or were eligible for prizes.

Top prizes awarded included Nine Days won Producer’s Vision Award and Once Upon A River and Donut King scored the One in A Million Awards. In addition, Ford announced the four finalists for $25,000 Ford Producers Grant.

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

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