Nearly a year on from Nora Ephron’s death, the caustic New York-based writer and filmmaker is still very much on the collective mind of her home city. Ephron’s final play, “Lucky Guy” — which Kris described as “perhaps the best thing [she] ever wrote” in his extensive appreciation last month — is currently one of the hottest tickets on Broadway. Meanwhile, the Tribeca Film Festival, which kicks off today, is doing its own bit to honor her cinematic legacy.
Yesterday, Tribeca organizers announced that the festival has introduced a new award named for Ephron. The Nora Ephron Prize will be presented to the female writer or director whose work “embodies the spirit and vision of the legendary filmmaker and writer.” The winner of the $25,000 award will be announced at the Woman’s Filmmaker brunch next Thursday.
All women whose films are having at least their North American premiere at the festival are eligible. The eight finalists for the inaugural award are: Laurie Collyer, “Sunlight Jr.”; Steph Green, “Run and Jump”; Jenee LaMarque, “The Pretty One”; Meera Menon, “Farah Goes Bang”; Mo Ogrodnik, “Deep Powder”; Marina de Van, “Dark Touch”; Jane Weinstock, “The Moment”; and Enid Zentelis, “Bottled Up.”
Three of the finalists are making their feature directing debut; one of those, Steph Green, was nominated for the Best Live-Action Short Oscar four years ago for “New Boy.” Cesar-nominated Frenchwoman Marina De Van is the most established of the other five, though the name that might ring the most bells for you is Laurie Collyer: her 2006 narrative feature debut “Sherrybaby” nabbed a Golden Globe nod for Maggie Gyllenhaal, among other accolades. That it’s taken this long for her to make a follow-up is indicative of how rough the road can sometimes be for independent-minded female filmmakers — surely one reason why Tribeca thought this award necessary.
Festival founded Jane Rosenthal states: “Nora Ephron’s work influenced screenwriters, filmmakers and movie goers. She was a great friend to the Festival since its inception, and I had the privilege to know her and be in absolute awe of her. She did it all brilliantly, with wit and wisdom that went straight to the heart.”
The Tribeca Film Festival runs from today until April 28. The programme features its fair share of hits from other festivals, including Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight” and David Gordon Green’s Berlin prizewinner “Prince Avalanche.” But some of the world premieres are intriguing, notably “Some Velvet Morning,” Neil LaBute’s rumored return to form, and “Almost Christmas,” Phil Morrison’s long-awaited follow-up to “Junebug,” starring Paul Rudd and Sally Hawkins. Keep an eye out.