EXCLUSIVE: New Yorker video producer Christopher Hwisu Kim will be heading to the Sundance Film Festival this week as an all-expenses paid guest of The Black List and Cassian Elwes.

“It’s an immense honor to be the recipient of the Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship, especially because E.S.L. is a deeply personal story centered on a family that looks and sounds like mine,” the Brooklyn-based filmmaker told Deadline. “It’s long been a dream of mine to add to the rich but underappreciated legacy of Asian American filmmakers—and now, thanks to Mr. Elwes and The Black List, that dream feels more possible than ever before,” Kim added.

Submitted late last year for consideration for the 10th consecutive Fellowship program, Kim’s E.S.L. feature script tells the tale of a Korean-American woman in a hurry to relearn the language of the peninsula in an effort to speak with her ailing mother before she dies, and the surprise she gets as she learns more. Culled down to 10 finalists each year, the Fellowship focuses on unrepresented feature writers whose projects spotlights an independent sensibility and have made less than $5,000 in aggregate in their film or television writing careers.

Though the last two winners had a virtual Sundance experience due to the pandemic, traditionally the Fellowship recipient has made the trek to Park City in person, as Kim will this year. Previous fellows include Leslie Nipkow, Aemilia Scott, Claire Ayoub, Emily Tomson, Heather Faris, John C. Hoffler Jr., Keely Lewis Wise, Terrell Garrett, Kristina Zacharias, Mike Harden, and Matthew Hickman.

“I’m delighted to celebrate 10 years of partnership with The Black List by returning to Sundance in person with another brilliant writer in Chris Kim,” says Mudbound producer Elwes. “The Black List continues to be a premier source of great material, and a terrific platform for new voices to be discovered. I look forward to this fellowship every year and the chance to read the scripts of very talented new writers.”

“As always, it’s a joy to be partnered with Cassian on this singular opportunity for an up-and-coming writer whose taste leans more independent–a more and more challenging predicament to find oneself in professionally in 2023,” said Black List Founder Franklin Leonard. “But it’s support like this from folks like Cassian that will make it at least a little bit easier to go off and make your first film – as former fellow Claire Ayoub has done with her Empire Waist. I’m incredibly excited for Chris and E.S.L.”


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