October 30, 2006 07:00 ET

Women In Film & General Motors Announce 2006 Winners of Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers

Seven Outstanding Women Pursuing Careers in Entertainment Given Inside Track to Network With Industry Leaders

LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 30, 2006 --Seven talented women have been selected as winners of the second annual Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers competition, it was announced today by the national organization of Women In Film (WIF) and the General Motors Corporation (GM). The grant, awarded annually, is a program of the WIF/GM Alliance, the goal of which is to support talented filmmakers from under-represented communities.

The WIF/GM grant, announced in 2005, is awarded to up-and-coming female filmmakers chosen through an application process overseen by a WIF Selection Committee comprised of professional filmmakers and entertainment industry executives from across the nation. The grant provides recipients with a broad-based understanding of the business of filmmaking through a five-day, full-immersion mentoring program shepherded by members of WIF, which includes much of the industry's most successful female talent.

"We had a tremendous response from applicants again this year," said Judith James, chair of the WIF/GM Alliance. "It was a difficult choice, but we have selected seven exceptionally talented young women to receive this year's 2006 Women In Film/General Motors Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers. We congratulate each of these women on the initiative, drive and admirable creativity that makes them winners.

"Women In Film," continued James, "steadfastly believes in mentoring, fostering and supporting outstanding women from diverse communities. Grant recipients from last year have clearly been able to advance their careers in the entertainment industry as a result. This is a tremendous opportunity. The business and creative foundation provided to grant winners does open doors and benefits both the new talent and the industry for years to come."

The 2006 WIF-GM Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers winners are:

Narumol Sriyanond Bartone, Los Angeles, Calif. -- A native of Thailand, Bartone's work has focused on the plight and culture of the Thai people. Founder of Women In Focus Productions, her short, "Thai Women: Challenging AIDS," which profiled northern Thai women with the disease, screened at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival in 2006. Bartone is currently making the film into a feature with the help of the Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand. Bartone received her M.F.A. and Ph.D in 2000 from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Bartone also has an impressive background in anthropology and performance studies and has served as a guest lecturer at New York's Julliard School of Music.

Margaret Brown, Austin, Texas -- Margaret Brown is the producer and director of the acclaimed documentary, "Be Here to Love Me: Townes Van Zandt," which was released theatrically in 2005 by Palm Pictures and is currently airing on the Sundance Channel and available on DVD. "Be Here to Love Me" was the opening night film at North America's premiere documentary film festival, Full Frame, and the closing night film at the Nashville Film Festival. She recently produced Catpower's "Living Proof" video and directed a film about Austin musician Ruthie Foster for the Austin City Limits Festival. As a producer, she has received a Student Academy Award for the film "Six Miles of Eight Feet." She produced the narrative feature "Mi Amigo," which stars Josh Holloway of "Lost" and will be released in December by ThinkFilm. Margaret is currently working on a feature documentary and narrative screenplay about Mobile, Alabama's Mardi Gras carnival. Margaret earned her B.A. from Brown University and her M.F.A in Film from New York University.

Shelley Niro, Brantford, Ontario, Canada -- Niro received her M.F.A. from the University of Western Ontario in 1997 and has participated in initiatives like the Women In The Director's Chair Workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts and, most notably, the Sundance Producer's Conference in Park City, Utah. Her film, "The Shirt," was chosen to represent the Indian Arts Alliance from New Mexico in 2003 at the Venice Biennale film festival before going on to be screened at Sundance. "It Starts With a Whisper" was also screened at Sundance. Her film "Honey Moccasin" took top honors, including "Best Feature" and "Best Director," at the 1998 Red Earth Film Festival. A Native-American, Niro is a member of the Six Nations Reserve, Turtle Clan, Bay of Quinte Mohawk. She is currently working on a full-length dramatic film, "Kissed By Lightning."

Pamela K. Johnson, Long Beach, Calif. -- A graduate of Stanford University, Pamela's short, "Talk Me to Death," about rampant cell phone use at a funeral, was the recipient of the "Best Editing" and "Audience Awards" at the 2006 Duke City Shootout in New Mexico. She is now developing it into a feature-length romantic comedy. Johnson is a journalist and published author with a novel, "Santa and Pete," under her belt, as well as the anthology "Tenderheaded: A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories." The former was made into a 1999 TV movie which starred James Earl Jones and Hume Cronyn. The latter was adapted into a musical stage play, which drew sold-out audiences in Philadelphia and also played New York in 2001 and 2002. Johnson is the former west coast editor of Essence magazine.

Sandra Pfeifer, Simpson, Ill. -- Pfeifer's two films, "Kathryn and Her Daughters" and "Truck Stop," have screened at multiple festivals throughout the Midwest. Since earning her undergraduate degree in film production from Southern Illinois University in 1994, she has been the recipient of audience awards and honorariums from Muskegon, Mich., to New York City. Pfeifer is the mother of two and lives on a 40-acre farm in the heart of rural America. Her current project, "Against all the Odds," explores the history, commerce and racial roots of the city of East St. Louis, Ill.

Marie Francoise Theodore, North Hollywood, Calif. -- A native of Chicago, Theodore's work has taken her all over the world, from writing and directing commissions in Minnesota, to London, where her film "blood/memory" was screened at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in 1999, and to Berlin, where her film "rebel in the soul" earned an award for "Best Film Highlighting the Black Experience" at the 2004 XIX Black International Cinema Screenings. Theodore, who was awarded a Media Arts Grant from the prestigious Jerome Foundation in 2001, has been a visiting artist at various universities and colleges in Minnesota. Her screenplay, "The Street," is currently a finalist for the 2007 Sundance Screenwriter's Lab.

Sue Vicory, Stilwell, Kan. -- Founder of Heartland Films, Inc., Vicory's short documentary, "Homelessness and the Power of One," has been screened at multiple fundraisers, including one in Harlem, NY, and more throughout the heartland, raising more than $75,000 for homeless shelters nationwide. Her film was also screened at a film festival in Washington, D.C. She has created a pilot program, Power of One, modeled after the film, to continue to educate and raise awareness about the plight of the homeless.

This year's winners will be hosted by the WIF/GM Alliance Nov. 1-6, in Santa Monica, Calif. Awardees will attend individual and group meetings with film industry professionals who will review with them the national and international aspects of finance, marketing, distribution and legal subjects.

Additionally, they will meet as a group with a panel of studio executives and distributors in film and television to discuss the trends and criteria shaping the industry. They will also meet with one or more international sales agents to discuss the current trends in buying and selling product for the international market. And they will receive full access badges to the American Film Market (AFM)* to attend AFM seminars and conferences.

"By providing the opportunity to attend dedicated workshops and to network with professionals from all aspects of the filmmaking industry," said James, "these grants will provide these women with a broad base of skills and knowledge of how to turn creative ideas into reality."

The Women In Film/General Motors Alliance was created to support women in the entertainment industry and to expand Women In Film chapter programs across the country. The initiative was announced in Los Angeles in January 2005 and is supporting programs as diverse as the Film Finishing Fund, Women's Film Preservation Fund, Legacy Series, PSAs, scholarships, mentorships and local WIF chapter award events across the nation. For more information about the WIF/GM Alliance and WIF/GM programs, visit

Founded in 1973 in Los Angeles, Women In Film ( is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to women in the global entertainment industry. Its purpose is to empower, promote, nurture and mentor women in the industry through a network of valuable contacts, events, programs, workshops, finishing funds and scholarships. In the U.S., there are chapters in Arizona, California (3), Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas (2), Washington and Washington, D.C. The international network, Women In Film and Television International (, of which WIF-Los Angeles is a founding member, boasts 35 chapters on six continents. Member chapters range from developing nations to countries with established industries, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom, to name a few.

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader for 75 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 327,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries. In 2005, 9.17 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall. GM operates one of the world's leading finance companies, GMAC Financial Services, which offers automotive, residential and commercial financing and insurance. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at

GM is a long-time contributor to both women's initiatives and to the arts and culture. GM and the GM Foundation support a variety of arts and cultural institutions that promote appreciation of the arts, recognition of diverse cultures and awareness of arts in education programs.

For more information on the WIF/GM Alliance and its programs, visit:

* The American Film Market® and the Independent Film & Television Alliance® are not affiliated with the WIF/GM Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:

    Vicki Greenleaf
    WIF/GM Alliance
    Greenleaf & Associates
    Email Contact

    Christie Conti
    GM Communications
    Email Contact