FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND AWARD SALUTES THE EMERGING FILMMAKER’S JOURNEY
On Sunday, September 9th, Discovery Programme filmmaker Rola Nashef was presented with the inaugural Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize to put toward her next project. The innovative award was designed to celebrate the human story behind first-feature filmmaking, spotlighting the incredible passion and dedication required to ultimately get one’s film made. All 27 directors with a film in the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival’s Discovery Programme were considered for the award, with Rola’s story of perseverance, willpower and unwavering spirit making her the undeniable choice to be its first-ever recipient. The final selection was made by the Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award jury, which included internationally and critically acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Ruba Nadda; Mark Slone, Senior Vice President of Alliance Films; and Grolsch Canada’s General Manager, Stewart Cowan.
As the official beer of TIFF and the presenting sponsor of the Festival’s Discovery Programme, Grolsch created the Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award as an extension of the iconic Dutch lager’s commitment to celebrating and supporting emerging filmmaking talent. “Grolsch is proud to salute Rola Nashef — an extraordinarily talented, dedicated and creative filmmaker,” says Stewart Cowan. “The numerous interesting choices and innovative solutions she made to get her first feature film into production echo the true spirit of the Grolsch brand and the Award.”
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Rola Nashef’s feature debut, Detroit Unleaded, was nine years in the making. After experiencing broken promises and multiple rejections on the funding front, she utilized her background in the non-profit sector to find creative solutions for her budget woes. From partnering with culinary schools to provide craft services on set, to using local Detroiters to star in her film, to filling her art department with art school interns, Rola rallied her community to help make what is being called the first Arab American romantic comedy.
When it finally came time to commence shooting, she experienced an unthinkable blow, being told she required emergency back surgery or she would lose function of her right leg. Showing extraordinary stamina and spirit, she refused to postpone production in the long-term, instead starting her shoot just two weeks late. Fighting through her pain and diminished mobility, Rola leaned on the community she had built around the project to support her through the shooting schedule, with her infectious energy and spirit flowing through the entire production.
“Rola’s story is awe-inspiring,” says Ruba Nadda, celebrated filmmaker and Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award juror. “Her passion, tenacity and dedication — not to mention talent — are qualities that will take her to great heights as a director. I am excited to see where she goes from here.”
Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, is a passionate advocate of the Festival’s Discovery Programme. “The Festival’s programmers scour the world seeking out the next great wave of filmmaking talent for the Discovery Programme,” says Bailey. “We are thrilled to see Grolsch take its presenting sponsorship to the next level, celebrating the filmmaker’s journey in such a meaningful way.”
Grolsch is a super-premium, heritage beer brand that has been brewed in the Netherlands for almost 400 years. Its bold flavour profile and unique swing top bottle have made it a favourite amongst consumers seeking an approachable, interesting beer brand.
A longtime supporter of the arts, Grolsch recently introduced GROLSCH FILM WORKS — an innovative global program designed to support emerging filmmaking talent and bring indie cinema to a wider audience. As part of this initiative, Grolsch is proud to serve as the official beer sponsor of TIFF and the presenting sponsor of the Festival’s Discovery Programme, showcasing captivating work from up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world during the Toronto International Film Festival.