Adrienne Shelly Foundation Awards 2011 IFP Labs Director’s Grant to Sara Blecher for Otelo Burning

New York, NY (November 3, 2011) - The Adrienne Shelly Foundation announced today that its 5th Annual IFP Labs Director’s Grant is awarded to Sara Blecher for her film, Otelo Burning. The Grant was awarded last night at the Foundation’s 1st Annual Woman of Vision Salute, honoring filmmaker Nicole Holofcener.

Otelo Burning is a participant in IFP’s 2011 Narrative Independent Filmmaker Labs and is currently on the festival circuit; it premiered at the Durban Film Festival, and internationally at the London and Busan festivals. Somewhere between City of God and Blue Crush, Otelo Burning is a coming-of-age story of teenagers in the township learning to surf, set against the backdrop of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. Sara Blecher is the writer, director and producer of Otelo Burning. The film is executive produced by Kevin Fleisher, James Whyle is the co-writer.

Given in memory of actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly, the IFP Labs Director’s Grant is a competitive award that grants a female director $5,000 in finishing funds to their Labs project or as seed money towards a new project. IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs are a unique year-long mentorship program supporting first-time feature directors when they need it most: through the completion, marketing and distribution of their films. Focusing exclusively on low-budget features (under $1million), this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films – and their careers. (

Andy Ostroy, widower of Adrienne Shelly and Founder/Executive Director of the foundation which bears her name, said of Otelo Burning “I was utterly blown away by this film. I fell in love with the characters and their journey from the get-go and was riveted throughout. It was beautifully shot and told, and the story is heartwarming, inspiring and tragic all at the same time.”

The jury for the IFP Labs Director’s Grant consists of board members of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation: Adam Brightman, Unit Production Manager for “Pan Am,” Rachel Goldstein, Event Producer for Agent of Change Network, Jen Small, Producer/Founder of Orchard Pictures and Andy Ostroy.

The other finalists for the Director’s Grant are Eleanor Burke, writer/director/producer of Stranger Things; Kat Candler, writer/director of Nikki is a Punk Rocker; Jenny Deller, writer/director/producer of Future Weather and Rola Nashef, writer/director/producer of Detroit Unleaded.

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The Adrienne Shelly Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated in loving memory to the uniquely gifted actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly, whose highly accomplished life was tragically cut short November 1, 2006. ASF supports the artistic achievements of female actors, writers and directors through a series of scholarships and grants, providing recipients with financial support and consultative access to the Foundation’s advisory board of actors, directors, producers, composers, law, publicity, academic and trade professionals. Reflecting Adrienne’s spirit, generosity, courage and whimsy, its goal is to recognize the tremendous passion and commitment of women artists in creating their own work, and provide them with support and guidance particularly during periods of transition and struggle.