Two Columbia Filmmakers Triumph with Sundance Award Wins

Carlos Barragán
January 29, 2024


2024 Sundance Film Festival winners were announced Friday, and two Columbia filmmakers took home prestigious awards.

The Stag, written, directed and produced by Film alum An Chu ’22, won the Short Film Jury Award for International Fiction. Set against the backdrop of the bustling antler harvest season, the film follows Yung-he, a middle-aged man who brings his two kids with him to a deer farm in Changhua County and is asked to cut off a stag's antlers in front of his children.

"This quietly powerful film held onto our attention from the opening shot," said the jury, "and it gave us a peek into a world we haven’t seen. The film is striking with beautifully composed scenes, and at its center is a deeply moving story about a father trying to do the right thing for his kids."

Daughters, produced by Sam Bisbee (CC ’90), won the Audience award in the documentary category. The documentary follows four young girls preparing for a special Daddy Daughter Dance with their incarcerated fathers, as part of a unique fatherhood program in a Washington, D.C. jail.

See a complete list of Sundance winners here.

Original: December 21, 2023

The Sundance Film Festival, a beacon of cinematic innovation, has unveiled its official 2024 lineup, featuring an array of Columbia filmmakers. The Festival will host screenings in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Sundance Mountain Resort from January 18-28, 2024.

Established by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute in 1981, Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the US and focuses on introducing innovative work worldwide. This year, an impressive array of Columbia-affiliated films will screen in a variety of categories, showcasing the talents and accomplishments of  alumni and faculty alike.

Notably, Celine Song '14, an alumna of the Theatre program, is being honored at this year's festival opening gala for her acclaimed work, Past Lives, which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. Song  wrote and directed this debut feature which has since made waves with audiences and has been included in several Best of 2023 lists, including the New York Times's Best Movies of 2023. Past Lives tells the story of Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends who are separated after Nora's family emigrates from South Korea. Twenty years later, they reunite for one fateful week, confronting their notions of love and destiny. Song will receive the Vanguard Award in fiction, presented by Acura, which annually honors artists whose work highlights the art of storytelling and creative independence. 

“I am incredibly honored to receive this award," said Song. "It really means the world to me. Sundance is where I showed my very first film for the very first time, and I will never forget the experience—pacing around the green room at the Eccles, waiting to introduce the film to the world, meeting the audience afterward, being there together with everyone who made the movie with me. Sundance is the place that launched my career as a filmmaker: it’s a home for Past Lives—and a home for me—in the deepest way.”

The Opening Gala will take place on January 18, 2024 and will officially open the 40th edition of the festival. See below for a full list of Columbia films at Sundance, and find tickets to in-person and virtual screenings here

Category: US Dramatic Competition

Still from "Exhibiting Forgiveness"

Exhibiting Forgiveness 
Claire Brooks '21, Executive Producer 

A Black artist on the path to success is derailed by an unexpected visit from his estranged father, a recovering addict desperate to reconcile.

Still from "Good One"

Good One 
Graham Mason ’11, Producer and Editor 

During a weekend backpacking trip in the Catskills, 17-year-old Sam navigates the clash of egos between her father and his oldest friend.

Still from "Between the Temples"

Between the Temples
C. Mason Wells 

A cantor in a crisis of faith finds his world turned upside down when his grade school music teacher reenters his life as his new adult bat mitzvah student.


Category: Short Film Program

Still from "The Stag"

The Stag 
An Chu ’22, Writer/Director/Producer

During the antler harvest season, guests hit the town. Yung-he brings his two kids with him to the deer farm. At noon, the boss assigns the injured Yung-he to deal with a strong stag. All the men in town gather at the farm as a good show is about to start.

Still from "The Looming Cloud"

The Looming Cloud 
Matthew Tyler ’12, Writer/Director/Producer 

Three siblings return home after their mother's death and face their most daunting task: figuring out how to post about it on social media.

Still from "Border Hopper"

Border Hopper
Blaine Morris (GS ’19), Producer

When a Latinx filmmaker is offered a dream job abroad, she discovers a supernatural way to navigate the U.S. immigration system and get the coveted travel permit she needs. But what seems like a magic solution soon shows unexpected consequences.


Category: Documentary Competition

Still from "As We Speak"

As We Speak
Sam Bisbee (CC ’90), Producer

Bronx rap artist Kemba explores the growing weaponization of rap lyrics in the United States criminal justice system and abroad—revealing how law enforcement has quietly used artistic creation as evidence in criminal cases for decades.

Still from "Daughters"

Sam Bisbee (CC ’90), Producer

Four young girls prepare for a special Daddy Daughter Dance with their incarcerated fathers, as part of a unique fatherhood program in a Washington, D.C., jail.


Category: Family Matinee

Still from "Out of My Mind"

Out of My Mind 
Josh Cohen ’15, Post Production Supervisor

Melody Brooks is navigating sixth grade as a nonverbal wheelchair user who has cerebral palsy. With the help of some assistive technology and her devoted allies, Melody shows that what she has to say is more important than how she says it.

Still from "A Real Pain"

A Real Pain
Jennifer Westin ’07, Executive Producer

Two estranged cousins reunite for a tour through Poland to honor their beloved grandmother. The adventure takes a turn when the pair's old tensions resurface against the backdrop of their family history.


Category: Episodic

Still from "God Save Texas"

God Save Texas
Adjunct Professor Rich Perello, Executive Producer

Richard Linklater revisits his hometown to explore its diverse inhabitants, painting a vibrant portrait that encapsulates the criminal justice system of Texas.


Category: Midnight

Still from "I Saw the TV Glow"

I Saw the TV Glow
Tyler St. Pierre ’21, Quality Control

Teenager Owen is just trying to make it through life in the suburbs when his classmate introduces him to a mysterious late-night TV show—a vision of a supernatural world beneath their own. In the pale glow of the television, Owen’s view of reality begins to crack.


Category: Premieres 

A red-headed woman stands on a rocky coastline

The Outrun
Claudia Yusef '12, Executive Producer

After living life on the edge in London, Rona attempts to come to terms with her troubled past. She returns to the wild beauty of Scotland’s Orkney Islands—where she grew up—hoping to heal. Adapted from the bestselling memoir by Amy Liptrot.

Police officers in older uniforms march down a street

Ian Olds '06, Writer & Editor

A cogent essay film inviting conscious engagement and reflection on a system of control that has gone largely unquestioned, Power is a sweeping chronicle of the history and evolution of policing in the U.S.

Still from "Freaky Tales"

Freaky Tales 
Anna Boden (CC '02), Co-Writer/Co-Director 

Four interconnected stories set in 1987 Oakland, CA, will tell about the love of music, movies, people, places, and memories beyond our knowable universe.


Special Screenings

Still from "War Game"

War Game
Tony Gerber '95, Co-Director

US officials simulate a coup post a disputed election. Insurgents take capitals, questioning the president's military control. Countering disinformation is vital, highlighting bipartisan defense of democracy.

Still from "Three Seasons"

Three Seasons
40th Edition Celebration Screening
Part-time Associate in Film, Tony Bui, Writer/Director

Four ordinary people living as strangers in their own land; a young girl hired to aid a reclusive spiritual master; a cyclo driver who becomes obsessed with a proud and ambitious prostitute; a very young boy hustling lighters, gum, and cheap watches in the streets; and an American Vietnam vet searching for the daughter he never knew. 

Close up of two faces, one kissing the other's neck.

Go Fish
40th Edition Celebration Screening
Professor of Professional Practice in Film, Tom Kalin, co-Executive Producer

Max is looking for love. Her roommate, Kia, already has it in the person of Evy, who lives at home with her mom while still trying to shake off her ex-husband. Then there's Ely, Kia's ex-student who is seemingly available. Ely shares a place with Daria, the quintessential lesbian about town, constantly in and out of women's beds and hearts. Kia thinks Max would like Ely; Daria thinks Ely should like Max. Everyone schemes. We're treated to a date, a dinner party, pride, honor, friendship, laundry, nail clipping—and, of course, sex.