Still from Solastalgia, a short documentary in development by Gabriele Urbonaite, produced by Marta Cruañas, image courtesy of Gabriele Urbonaite

Current Student Gabriele Urbonaite Awarded Mountainfilm's Emerging Filmmaker Fellowship

BY Gina Hackett, November 11, 2019

Mountainfilm has awarded current student Gabriele Urbonaite its 2019 Emerging Filmmaker Fellowship for her short documentary in development, Solastalgia.

 

Each year, Mountainfilm chooses its fellowship winner from a short list of annual Commitment Grant recipients, who are awarded a total of $30,000 for projects “intended to inspire audiences to create a better world.”

 

Urbonaite’s Solastalgia is a short documentary that reflects on climate change, nostalgia, and loss through the eyes of Serap Sherpa, a guide from the mountains of Nepal who now drives an Uber in New York City.

 

"Mountainfilm was the first organization that my producer [current student] Marta Cruañas and I reached out to, and the fact that they believe in this project that is still in development keeps me motivated going forward,” Urbonaite said. 

 

“They connected with the main character and they liked my approach to the story, which felt like a confirmation that we're on the right track. I hope that this recognition will bring more attention to the project and we'll be able to raise the remaining funds to do a trip to Nepal with my subject." 

 

Through the fellowship, Urbonaite will receive mentorship, development assistance, and creative guidance as she continues to edit, in addition to a small cash award. 

 

Additionally, Mountainfilm has invited Urbonaite to attend the Mountainfilm Festival, which takes place in Telluride, Colorado each May and may screen Urbonaite’s project, if finished.

 

Urbonaite’s previous work includes a short film, The Last Day of School, that screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival earlier this year. 

 

Hailing from Lithuania, Urbonaite was selected by Berlinale Talents in 2012 and 2015, as well as by the 2013 Odense Talent Camp and the 2016 FEST Pitching Forum. She also received the Princess Grace Film Award and “Silver Crane” National Lithuanian Film Award for Best Short Film.

 

Mountainfilm’s annual festival began in 1979 and as such is one of America’s longest running festivals, screening the leading independent documentaries from around the world and holding an all-day symposium on a contemporary issue each year.

 

As an organization, Mountainfilm aims to “use the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.”