SFTV MFA Student Receives Prestigious Horizon Award at Sundance 2020

Viviane Charlestin, a first-year graduate student in the Writing and Producing for Television program at SFTV, was named a 2020 Horizon Award winner on Sunday night, January 26, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The Horizon Awards support the next generation of female filmmakers by providing grants, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Each awardee receives an all-expenses-paid trip to the Sundance Film Festival, where they meet with producers, filmmakers, festival programmers, and others in the film industry. Winners were chosen from a pool of more than 300 applicants from top-tier film programs across the country.

According to “Inclusion at Film Festivals,” a new report from the Time’s Up Foundation and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, women and people of color are vastly underrepresented at film festivals worldwide. It was the Horizon Award’s mission to counteract these disheartening statistics that inspired her to submit for the award, says Charlestin.

“This year alone, women were placed on the back burner for the entirety of the award season,” Charlestin wrote to the Horizon committee. “Black women, in general, continue to be overlooked and passed over for opportunities simply because we are deemed ‘intimidating.’ It’s time that more voices, more stories, and more unique perspectives were explored and shared to break free from the stereotypes and to make up for the lack of diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.”

Emerging female filmmakers from all over the country apply to the Horizon Awards each year. Submissions must be films under two minutes long and directed by the applicant. You can check out all the winning submissions, including Charlestin’s, here.

” I turned to film to channel the voices that I witnessed growing up that were often overlooked,” says Charlestin on her short film BLACK SPARROW, for which she was recognized. ”This film is a representation of the crisis of mental health in the black community, specifically with young black men that is often misrepresented or unrepresented. I wanted to create a film that paints the real picture of mental health, not the version often glamorized by Hollywood.”

Charlestin is a first-generation Haitian-American director, writer, producer, and actor originally from Florida. She holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in Film from the University of Florida and is currently a first-year graduate student in the Writing and Producing for Television program at LMU SFTV. Charlestin’s post-graduation plans include establishing her own production company to open doors for the voices of the underrepresented and overlooked, and creating diverse content that more accurately reflects the world we live in today.

Image: Vivian Charlestin; Still from BLACK SPARROW