Derek Cianfrance began making movies at age 13. He later attended The University of Colorado where he studied under avant-garde film legends Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon. His first three films, 'Five O'clock Shadow', 'Raw Footage', and Brother Tied (1998), won consecutive Goldfarb Awards for best film. Raw Footage went on to be awarded a Special Deans Grant for Achievement in the Arts, as well as The Independent Film Channel's Award for Excellence in Student Filmmaking. He directed, wrote, shot, and edited his first feature, Brother Tied, at the age of 23. The film made its American premiere at The Sundance film festival where it was lauded as "one of the most striking American independent debuts in some time," by The Guardian's Jonathan Romney, and hailed a work of "visual genius," by New York Newsday's John Anderson. The film traveled to over 30 festivals and won international awards at 6, including The Orson Welles First Feature Film Award at Huntington, the Ecumenical Jury Award at Mannheim/Heidelberg, and Jury Prize for Bold, Original Expression at Florida. Cianfrance then ventured into documentary filmmaking where he explored a wide array of subjects and characters for both theatrical exhibition and TV. He has made portraits of musicians, Cassandra Wilson - Traveling Miles: Cassandra Wilson (2000), Mos Def - Work And Progress, Run-D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay: The Last Interview (2002), Annie Lennox - Live In Toronto, gained access to Vietnam veteran biker clubs in Rolling Thunder - Ride For Freedom, exposed the mysterious world of crime photography for Shots in the Dark (2001), and revealed teen racing and Hispanic subculture in Quattro Noza (2003) for which he won best cinematographer at Sundance 2003. Cianfrance is currently in pre-production on his second narrative feature, Blue Valentine.
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