Alumna Deborah Chow '03 to Receive Andrew Sarris Award at 2022 CUFF

BY Angeline Dimambro, April 28, 2022

The Columbia University Film Festival (CUFF) will present its annual Andrew Sarris Award to Canadian director and screenwriter Deborah Chow ’03. Chow’s directorial work can be seen in series from networks such as BBC, CW, USA, and others. In 2019, Chow became the first woman to direct a live-action installment in the Star Wars franchise when she directed two episodes of Disney+’s series, The Mandalorian. She is also the Executive Producer and Director of the forthcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+, which is slated to premiere on May 27, 2022.


The Sarris Award, named for world-renowned critic, theorist, and Film Program Professor Andrew Sarris, was created by film students to honor the outstanding artistic achievement of distinguished alumni. In addition to teaching at Columbia, Sarris worked extensively as a film critic and is the author of numerous books, including the landmark, American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929-1968 and many other influential works.


The annual Andrew Sarris Award winner is selected by current School of the Arts Film Program students. Past recipients include Cherien Dabis ’04 (Amreeka, May in the Summer), Phil Johnston ’04 (Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph), Laura Ricciardi ’07 and Moira Demos ’08 (Making a Murderer), Benjamin Odell '04 (How to be a Latin Lover, Overboard), Kathryn Bigelow ’81 (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), James Ponsoldt ’05 (Smashed, The Spectacular Now), Jennifer Lee ’05 (Frozen, A Wrinkle in Time), James Mangold ’99 (Logan, Walk the Line), Kimberly Peirce ’96 (Carrie, Boys Don’t Cry), Simon Kinberg ’03 (Logan, Deadpool), Lisa Cholodenko ’97 (Olive Kitteridge,The Kids Are All Right), Albert Berger ’83 (Nebraska, Little Miss Sunshine), Nicole Holofcener ’88 (Enough Said, Please Give), Malia Scotch Marmo ’88 (Rafina, Madeline, Hook, Once Around), Greg Mottola ’91 (Superbad), Sabrina Dhawan ’02 (Monsoon Wedding), Adam Davidson ’91 (The Lunch Date, Six Feet Under, Lost, Community), and Shari Springer Berman ’95 and Robert Pulcini ’94 (American Splendor).


Deborah Chow is a Canadian director and screenwriter. Her short film, Daypass, won the Best Actor Award at the Milano Film Festival and the Best Short at the Turin Film Festival. The feature-length screenplay version of the film won the Comedy Central Award for Best Comedy Screenplay. Chow was the winner of the 2005 Kodak New Vision Mentorship award for her short film The Hill, the winnings from which included funding for her first feature film. She was a participant in the Berlinale Talent Campus, Toronto International Film Festival Talent Lab, and the Praxis Screenwriting Lab. Her debut feature film The High Cost of Living, starring Zach Braff and Isabelle Blais, won Best First Feature and Top Ten at the Toronto International Film Festival, Best Canadian Feature at the Female Eye Film Fest, and Prix Super-Écran at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois.


Chow’s recent directorial works include the TV movie adaption of Flowers in the Attic and episodes of the BBC series Copper, CW programs Reign and Beauty and the Beast, the CBC show Murdoch Mysteries, the USA Network series Mr. Robot, Fear the Walking Dead, Jessica Jones, and American Gods. Chow won a NAACP Image Award in 2019 for her work on Better Call Saul, in addition to being recently honored with a DGC Visionary award. 


This year’s film festival will run May 5–16, 2022 and will be the first ever hybrid festival. Chow will accept the award remotely at Screenwriting Night on Monday, May 16 at 7pm  ET at the Riverside Theater.


CUFF will host in-person screenings and events in New York City and offer dozens of festival films online, available worldwide. Visit the CUFF website for up-to-date information and additional events, as well as a full list of festival films, synopses, filmmaker bios, and ticket information.