SOURCE: Women In Film/General Motors

October 15, 2007 06:00 ET

Women In Film & General Motors Announce 2007 Winners of Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers

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

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - October 15, 2007) - Five talented women have been selected as winners of the second annual Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers competition, it was announced 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 Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers is awarded to five up-and-coming female filmmakers, chosen through an application process overseen by a WIF selection committee comprised of professional filmmakers and entertainment industry executives. The grant provides recipients with a broad-based understanding of the business of filmmaking through a six-day, full-immersion mentoring program, shepherded by WIF members, which include some of the industry's most successful female talent.

Commented Judith James, chair of the WIF/GM Alliance: "Once again, we had a tremendous response from women across the country. This year's recipients of the Women In Film/General Motors Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers are all exceptionally talented. We congratulate each of these women for the initiative, drive and creativity that will help them establish and further their careers in film and television.

"Women In Film," continued James, "steadfastly believes in mentoring, fostering and supporting outstanding women from diverse communities. Previous recipients of both the WIF/GM Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers and the WIF/GM Opening Doors/Abriendo Puertas: The Acceleration Grant for Emerging Latina Filmmakers have clearly been able to advance their careers in the entertainment industry as a result. The business and creative foundation provided to grant winners does open doors and benefits both the new talent and the industry."

The '2007 WIF/GM Acceleration Grant for Emerging Filmmakers' winners are:

Jamie Taucher, Sedona, Ariz. -- A graduate from Prescott College where she earned a B.A. in studies in globalization with an emphasis in eco-psychology, Taucher has combined her dedication to the environment with her passion for filmmaking, documenting events and stories of positive change, as evidenced in her documentary short, "Sea of Change," which diaries her sea-kayaking journey in the Gulf of California in Mexico. The film celebrates the lives of the people whose stories are intertwined with the sea and explores the threat of over-fishing in our world's oceans. She intends on turning "Sea of Change" into a full-length film. Taucher is a recent graduate of the Zaki Gordon Institute for Independent Filmmaking. She continues to explore global topics through captivating and multi-faceted methods of storytelling.

Julia Kots, New York, N.Y. -- Kots is currently an M.F.A. candidate in the film program at Columbia University's School for the Arts, where she is a Dean's Scholar and a recipient of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation Grant, the Milos Forman Fund, Kathryn Parlan Hearst Screenwriting Scholarship and the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women Scholarship, as well as several traveling fellowships. She came to the U.S. at the age of 10 from Ukraine and attended Yale University, where she received her B.A. in playwriting. Her short film "Naturalized" and feature-length script "Natural Market" explore with depth and humor the Russian Immigrant identity. After running the festival circuit, "Naturalized" will be distributed as a learning aide by an arts education non-profit organization, further exploring the themes and educating the public about the Russian-Jewish diaspora. Her new film, a short entitled "New Business," is a dark comedy about the coming-of-age of a young boy in post-Soviet Russia. The film won the IFP Audience Choice Award at the 2007 Columbia Film Festival and was recently awarded the New Line Cinema Development Grant. Also a student of photography, Kots' work has been featured in multiple art shows, including two at Sotheby's, and her graphic design work can be seen at the MoMA Design store. She currently teaches an undergraduate filmmaking class at Columbia University.

Connie M. Florez, Honolulu, Hawaii -- Florez has been working in the Hawaii film and television industry for 10 years and served as producer for the recently completed narrative feature "All for Melissa." She is also working on three feature documentaries, "Hawaii Statehood Project," "The Glades Project" and "TATAU-Tongan Evolution," which is currently funded by Pacific Islanders In Communications. Her documentary "The Glades Project," about the shift in attitude and behavior toward the native Hawaiian cultural identity of Mahus/trans-gendered community during the '60s, '70s and '80s, garnered her awards from the Astraea Lesbian Action Fund for Justice, the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media and the Pacific Islanders in Communications Open Call Development Fund. She also received an award from the National Endowment for the Arts for the documentary she produced, "Ke Kulana He Mahu: Remembering a Sense of Place," which premiered at the Smithsonian Institute in 2001 and the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in 2002. The NEA is currently utilizing the film as part of its Civil Rights Program curriculum training. Florez currently serves as a lecturer and instructor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa-Academy for Creative Media, where she teaches cinematic and digital narrative production, and also serves as director of Film Programming for the Honolulu Gay and Lesbian Cultural Foundation/Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival.

Joyce Lee, San Francisco, Calif. -- Lee has dedicated her craft to telling stories and exploring the themes of the immigrant experience through recanting her own experiences as an Asian immigrant who arrived in the U.S. when she was a child at the end of the 1960s. Having started her foray into filmmaking as a 2-D visual artist, she has parlayed her unique experiences into her current project, a 3-D animated short, "Paper Words," which tells the story of a little girl who is perceived as developmentally-disabled when language barriers hinder her from interacting in class. The film is based on her own personal story along with stories from other immigrants of varying ages. Lee also served as director, producer and editor of the short film "Foreign Talk," about a racial incident between a Chinese woman and two African-American men after the Rodney King riots of 1992. The film was shown in film festivals internationally, on PBS stations in San Francisco, San Jose, Philadelphia and San Mateo, Calif. and was broadcast on cable in New York. The short is currently being distributed by the Center for Asian American Media. Her production company, Rising Chimera Productions, is based in San Francisco.

Mabel Valdiviezo, San Francisco, Calif. -- Valdiviezo has been making documentary, narrative and experimental films for nearly 10 years and recently produced a segment for KQED's SPARK arts series, profiling Chilean playwright Carlos Baron and Nobel Prize-winning poet and political figure Pablo Neruda. Valdiviezo is currently developing a feature-length film entitled "Soledad is Gone Forever," based on her short of the same name, which has screened at several film festivals including the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, Cine Mujer, Chica Luna and the Cannes Short Film Corner. The feature-length script was also selected for the 2007 Sundance Producer's Conference. Valdiviezo has been nominated for the Sundance International Filmmaker NHK Award. Valdiviezo is on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco chapter of Women In Film and Television, a member of the San Francisco chapter of NALIP and former co-chair of the Film Arts Foundation. Her company Haiku Films is based in San Francisco.

This year's winners will be hosted by the WIF/GM Alliance Oct. 31 - Nov. 6. 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, Oct. 31 - Nov. 6.

"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."

About the Women In Film/General Motors Alliance:

General Motors Corporation is the National Presenting Sponsor of Women In Film. 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 multi-year 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 its 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 annual global industry sales leader for 76 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 280,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 35 countries. In 2006, 9.1 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's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at

* 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