Two Columbia Filmmakers Recognized by Sundance Institute

BY Angeline Dimambro, November 16, 2021

Two Columbia alumni have been recognized by the Sundance Institute. They are: Lauren López de Victoria ’19, named as an inaugural Sundance Producers Intensive Fellow, and Cyril Aris ’17, whose project Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano was selected to receive a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Grant.


The inaugural Producers Intensive included ten fellows selected by the Sundance Institute who attended a two-day program, which took place virtually this year from October 21-22, 2021. The Intensive was designed through a collaboration between Sundance’s Documentary Film and Feature Film Programs as a means of providing creative, strategic, and professional development support for emerging fiction and nonfiction producers from traditionally underrepresented communities. The two-day intensive included interactive group sessions, round table conversations on various industry topics, as well as a Sundance Collab self-guided curriculum and legal workshop conducted in partnership with the Cardozo Law School’s Filmmakers Legal Clinic. Veteran producers in the industry also mentor the fellows through the intensive advising program.


Lauren López de Victoria was among those chosen to participate in the institute’s Fiction Fellowship for her project, forward, which tells the story of a Latinx teen who, after moving to the working class part of the Hamptons and beginning to clean for the elite, explores identity and love in the shadows of gentrification and inevitable loss.


Lauren López de Victoria is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA Creative Producing program. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Victoria obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2009. Prior to Columbia, Victoria worked in finance for seven years, spending three of those years in South America and different parts of the world. She was a recipient of the PGA Debra Hill grant and a Film Independent Project Involve Producing Fellow. Victoria has worked at UTA and is currently coordinator at a company with a deal at Amazon Studios.


Aris's Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano is among 20 projects selected to receive the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program Grant. The prestigious grant gives out a total of $600,000 in unrestricted support to projects in varying stages of production and distribution, including eight in development, eight in production, three in post-production, and one in post-production and impact. Aris’s Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano was among those selected at the post-production stage.


“We are thrilled to welcome this latest cohort of exceptional nonfiction artists to the Sundance family,” said Documentary Film Fund Director Paola Mottura in a statement to Deadline. “The projects selected embrace an incredibly eclectic range of cinematic languages that expands the vocabulary of documentary film, but they also share a common denominator, which expresses the spirit of Sundance. These stories get us out of our comfort zone and challenge our received world-views and assumptions by constantly pushing us to do better as a society and as people.”

Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano, directed by Aris, focuses on a country that experiences one disaster after another and the film crew that surmounts the insurmountable to shoot their vision of Lebanon’s future. The film is a portrait of Beirut society in the aftermath of the August 4th, 2020 port explosion, as it struggles to rebuild, resist, and ultimately find life again.


Cyril Aris is a Lebanese Director & Screenwriter and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His feature documentary, The Swing (2018), premiered in Karlovy Vary and won awards in El-Gouna, Rome, London, Budapest and Tunisia. His fiction short, The President’s Visit (2017), premiered in Toronto at TIFF and won awards in Dubai, Nashville, and the National Board of Review. He is in development for It’s a Sad and Beautiful World, recipient of a development grant from the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderun in Germany, selected at the TIFF Filmmaker Lab, the Nantucket Screenwriter Colony, the CineGouna platform in Egypt, a residency at the Cité des Arts in Paris, and winner of the ART award at the Beirut Cinema Platform. He holds an MFA from Columbia University in the City of New York, and has taught at Columbia University, Northwestern University, and Barnard College.