Horizon Award for Young Female Directors to Launch Second Annual Indiegogo Campaign

AP Images/Invision
Christine Vachon

The award was founded by indie film producers Cassian Elwes ('Dallas Buyers Club'), Lynette Howell ('Mississippi Grind') and Christine Vachon ('Carol').

The Horizon Award, established to benefit young female directors, will launch its second annual Indiegogo campaign on Thursday.

The award, founded by acclaimed independent film producers Cassian Elwes (Dallas Buyers Club), Lynette Howell (Mississippi Grind) and Christine Vachon (Carol), will be bestowed upon two young women and will include an all-expense-paid mentorship at Sundance 2016 in addition to a cash prize.

“Our hope is that this initiative will help us identify talent early so that we can support these young female filmmakers as they navigate the hurdles that exist in our business,“ Elwes said.

Added Women in Film president Cathy Schulman: “Women in Film believe that real-life experiences and hands-on mentorship are foundational requirements to help women in media be active in overcoming gender disparity. We’re thrilled to be a partner in this worthwhile project that Cassian, Christine, and Lynette have established.”

The Horizon Award’s mission is to confront the disparity in female to male directors by rewarding female student talent with mentorship, access and an opportunity to showcase their work to influential producers, agents, and festival and industry executives at Sundance, the highest-profile American indie film festival. Additionally, the Horizon Award seeks to engage, encourage and heighten the profile of young female filmmakers. Elwes, Howell and Vachon are partnering with The Black List, Indiegogo, Sundance Institute, Twitter, Vimeo and Women in Film in this effort.

The disparity between the number of female to male directors is well reported and has recently prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to call for a government investigation into the “systematic failure to hire women directors at all levels of the film and TV industry in violation of state and federal civil rights laws.”

The Horizon Award was launched in 2014 in response to two Women in Film studies. The first showed that only 9 percent of the 250 top-grossing films in 2012 were directed by women. Earlier this year, Women in Film published a follow-up study that revealed that of the 100 top-grossing domestic movies in 2014, only 1.9 percent had a female director.

Last year’s Horizon Award Indiegogo campaign was a success, with the $15,000 goal being surpassed by nearly $4,000. This year, the goal has been raised to $20,000, the last $5,000 of which will be donated by Elwes.

The inaugural Horizon Award was presented to Syracuse University student Verónica Ortiz-Calderón for her film Y Ya No Te Gustas (And You Don’t Like Yourself Anymore) at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Ortiz-Calderón’s winning short was selected from more than 400 submissions and premiered at the festival.

Since winning the Horizon Award, Ortiz-Calderón has produced her second short film, attended the Cannes Film Festival, and won the Louise Schiavoni Award for Outstanding Junior Woman in Communications at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She has several projects in development.

“For me, winning the Horizon Award was not only an unforgettable experience, it was a life-changing one that gives voice and meaning to stories and people that might otherwise be silent and forgotten,” Ortiz-Calderón said.

The application process for the award calls for candidates to submit a self-directed film that is two minutes or less to the Horizon Award’s website. Submissions begin immediately and will close Dec. 14.