Sun Valley Film Festival Announces Jurors, Shorts, Additional Winners & More | Arts and events


The Sun Valley Film Festival offered another preview of this year’s festivities on Thursday, announcing the winners of its Pioneer and Rising Star awards, as well as the documentaries to open and close the festivals, its jury list and its slate of shorts.

On Friday, April 1, Variety will present this year’s Pioneer Award to writer, director, actor and producer Danny Strong.

“The Pioneer Award is given in recognition of an industry innovator, one whose work on screen or behind the camera embodies the pioneering spirit,” Festival organizers wrote in a statement.

Past winners have included Shaka King, Aaron Paul, Eliza Hittman and Mark Duplass.

Over his extensive career, Strong has won two Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, two WGA Awards, a PGA Award and a Peabody Award. He’s worked on everything from gritty dramas like “Game Change” to box office hits like “The Hunger Games.” On the small screen, he co-created the Fox series “Empire”. Most recently, he was the showrunner of “Dopesick,” Hulu’s critically acclaimed dissection of the opioid crisis starring Michael Keaton.

This year’s Rising Star Award goes to the cast of Netflix’s “Outer Banks”: Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline, Madison Bailey, Jonathan Daviss, Rudy Pankow, Austin North, Drew Starkey and Carlacia Grant. They are all due to participate in a Coffee Talk on Friday, April 1.

Past recipients of the award are Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Winston Duke, Alex Ross Perry and Allison Williams.

The show follows a group of local rapscallion teenagers in the North Carolina beach destination. In 2020, it won the People’s Choice Award for “Most Interesting Show”. They are currently filming the third season.

National Geographic Documentary Films’ “Fire of Love,” directed by Sara Dosa, will open the festival. This romance tells the story of two French scientists, Katia and Maurice Krafft, who have dedicated their lives to investigating volcanoes. Although their research ultimately saved lives, it led to their own demise. Watch hours of never-before-seen footage edited for your viewing pleasure.

CNN’s documentary “Navalny” will wrap up SVFF 2022, with director David Roher in attendance for its Idaho premiere. The film follows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on his quest to identify the men who poisoned him in August 2020. This cinema verité has the dizzying speed of a thriller as the story unfolds in real time. The film had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and won the People’s Choice Award for American Documentary and the Festival Favorite Award.

The SVFF also announced the members of this year’s juries.


Julie Parker Benello: Benello produced the documentary “American Factory”, winning big at the Emmy Awards and the Oscars. Recently she worked on the Netflix Originals “Athlete A” and “Sell/Buy/Date”. She founded Secret Sauce Media and co-founded Chicken & Egg Pictures, focusing on the non-fiction stories of various women.

Trevor Groth: While working as director of programming for the Sundance Film Festival, Groth helped discover talent such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi and Chloe Zhao. Since then, he has served as an executive producer on projects such as “Tiger King.” Today, he works as a financier at 30WEST, an investment and entertainment consulting firm that distributed “I, Tonya” and funded “Late Night.”

Heather Rae: This producer has received awards all over the map. “Frozen River” was nominated for an Oscar. “The Dry Land” was nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. “Bull” won at SXSW. Variety named her one of their “producers to watch.” Currently, she is working on a deal with Amazon and serves as a narrative change strategist with IllumiNative.

Feature Narration

Joe Addy: Every year, Addy judges the BAFTA Students Film Awards. She also founded the Soho Film Prize, supporting emerging talent. As Global Director of Film and Entertainment for Soho House, Jo oversees the curation of all programming for its 120,000 members.

Eric Bress: Bress lives here in Sun Valley. The writer, director and producer has transcended horror, thriller and science fiction. The former Hollywood resident’s contributions include ‘Final Destination’, ‘The Butterfly Effect’ and ‘Kyle XY’.

Mariama Diallo: The writer/director’s shorts include “Hair Wolf” (Sundance 2018), “White Devil” (Toronto International Film Festival 2021), and HBO’s “Random Acts of Flyness.” Variety named her one of “10 Female Directors to Watch”.

Short film

Kimberly Browning: Browning is Head of Programming at the Catalyst Content Festival, Associate Short Film Programmer for the Tribeca Film Festival, and Founder and Director of The Hollywood Short Film Festival.

Lindsay Calleran: Calleran translated his experience in the world of improvisation into cinematic prowess. She wrote, directed and co-produced “What I See When I Look” which won Best Short Film at the 2021 Sun Valley Film Festival.

Steven Snyder: Snyder has worked everywhere from Focus Features to Good Universe to Innisfree Pictures. He helped develop “Green Book” which would go on to win the Best Picture Oscar.

First short films at the SVFF

More than two dozen shorts will be screened at this year’s Sun Valley Film Festival, with two world premieres, one US premiere and 17 Idaho premieres. They understand:

  • After the beep. Directors: Dan Klamerus and Jared Waters (Idaho premiere)
  • Aspirational bitch. Director: Caroline Lindy (Idaho premiere)
  • Black gold. Director: Sydney Linden
  • Cutter. Directors: Dan Repp and Lindsay Young (Idaho premiere)
  • Daddy’s girl. Director: Lena Hudson (Idaho premiere)
  • Don’t tell your mom. Director: Topaz Jones and rubberband.
  • The girls are strong here. Director: Scott Burkhardt (Idaho premiere)
  • Holly goes lightly. Director: Ryan Cannon (Idaho premiere)
  • Horizons. Director: Jeremy Seifert
  • Last days of August. Directors: Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck and Robert Machoian
  • Marie-Anne and Franck. Director: Jingjing Tian (US premiere)
  • Meridian. Director: Aidan Brezonick (Idaho premiere)
  • Night of the living cocks. Director: Ilja Rautsi (Idaho Premiere)
  • Black-Sun. Directed by: Marie Larrivé (Idaho premiere)
  • Off the tracks. Director: Jimmy Barker, Sean Cruser, John Druska (Idaho premiere)
  • Remember. Director: Jessica Sanders (world premiere)
  • Rooted. Director: Sean Addo (Idaho premiere)
  • Likely scam. Director: Collin Insley
  • Little Kindnesses. Directors: Hali Gardella and Emery Matson (Idaho premiere)
  • So much happiness. Director: Stefan Schaefer (Idaho premiere)
  • Starfuckers. Director: Antonio Marziale (Idaho premiere)
  • The event. Director: Hugo De Sousa (first in Idaho)
  • The Moogai. Director: Jon Bell
  • The originals. Directors: Cristina Costantini and Alfie Koetter (Idaho premiere)
  • Two bears. Director: Anthony Florez
  • What’s left. Director: Paavo Hanninen (Idaho premiere)
  • Written by. Directors: Callie Bloem & Christopher Ewing (World Premiere)

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