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Los Angeles (March 18,1999) -- Filmmaker David Williams has been selected as the winner of the Movado Someone To Watch Award. Created and coordinated by the IFP/West and sponsored by Movado Watch, the award is an unrestricted $20,000 grant given annually to an exceptionally talented independent filmmaker who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The announcement will be made tonight at the Independent Spirit Awards nominee reception by Peter Broderick, chair of the selection committee and President of Next Wave Films. The award will be presented to Williams this Saturday at the Independent Spirit Awards by Gina Gershon And Jeff Goldblum.

Williams was selected from over 80 filmmakers across the country nominated by festival programmers, critics, curators, producers, and directors.

"David Williams is a remarkable filmmaker. He portrays realities that elude other filmmakers by using methods few would dare to try," said Broderick. "David works in a very collaborative way with a mixture of non-actors and actors, who improvise dialogue and action during production rather than working from a script. He uses this very open-ended approach to capture the ‘truthful interactions’ between people."

Fascinated by "the many ways of portraying reality," Williams began as a painter, then took up still photography and later filmmaking. He directed 15 short films before turning to features. Lillian, his first feature, won a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and was shown at the Chicago, Florida, and Vienna film festivals. Thirteen, Williams’ second feature, won the Berlin International Federation of Film Societies Jury Award in 1997 at the Berlin film festival, and was screened at many other festivals including Toronto, San Francisco, London, Virginia, and New Directors/New Films.

"I am very honored to receive this award," noted Williams. "The recognition is good to have, and the money will enable me to begin my next film."

This year’s Movado Someone to Watch Award selection committee is chaired by Broderick and includes: Miguel Arteta, (writer/director of Star Maps);

Michele Foreman (independent filmmaker, associate producer of Spike Lee’s Four Little Girls); Rachel Rosen (programmer for the San Francisco International Film Festival); and Rebecca Yeldham (associate director of programming, Sundance Institute). Past recipients of the Someone to Watch Award include filmmaker Lodge Kerrigan (Clean, Shaven), Christopher Munch (Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day); Larry Fessenden (Habit); and Scott Saunders (The Headhunter’s Sister).

With 4,500 members IFP/West is one of the largest non-profit membership organizations supporting the development, production and distribution of quality American independent films.


By Peter Broderick, Chair, Movado Someone To Watch Award Selection Committee

David Williams’ artistic career began in the early ‘70s when he started to create oil and acrylic paintings. He has continued to paint since then, and has had exhibitions at the Virginia Museum, the Chrysler Museum, and other galleries. David explained, "Because of my interest in the many ways of portraying reality, painting led me to photography, which I practiced for more than fifteen years. This, in turn, led to my interest in making films. One of the first films I attempted was created out of still photographs."

He made fifteen short films, including Dreams in the Night which won the Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival. All of his shorts were "personal projects" which he conceived, wrote, shot, edited, produced, and directed. His last short, Nina Split in Two, featured two remarkable non-actors-Nina Dickens, a six-year old foster child in the care of Lillian Folley, a woman in her 50s who subsequently adopted Nina.

Neighbors of David’s, Lillian and Nina became his creative collaborators. David’s method evolved as he worked with them. Struck by the special quality of their unscripted performances in Nina Split in Two, he was inspired to make features with them. Lillian is the main character in Lillian, which also features Nina (who was nine years old when it was shot). Although he wrote a screenplay for Lillian, David never showed it to Lillian, Nina, or any of the trained actors in the cast so they wouldn’t get locked into scripted lines.

David’s second feature Thirteen focuses on Nina but also features Lillian. It was shot during Nina’s thirteenth year. Instead of writing a script for Thirteen, he just started with a few general themes and some ideas for scenes.

He began filming expecting that one thing would lead to another over the course of the year, and it did.

The three films David has made with Lillian and Nina exist in a special territory between fiction and nonfiction. Determined to capture real human interactions, David avoids conventional dialogue, performance, and plotting.

Although these films include many non-actors who play characters based on themselves., they are not documentaries. They also include some actors, but dialogue and action are unscripted.

Lillian (1992) and Thirteen (1997) have been shown at film festivals around the world and widely praised by critics. Lillian was included on Duane Byrge’s ( The Hollywood Reporter) 1993 10 best list. Thirteen was selected by Roger Ebert to be screened in a festival of overlook films being presented this April. David has received fellowships and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, and the Southeast Media Fellowship Program.

David is based in Richmond, Virginia. He makes his films far from Hollywood both geographically and creatively. To receive the Movado Someone To Watch Award, he is coming to Los Angeles, where he has never set foot before.