39th Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival - April 9-25, 2020Emerging Filmmaker Competition

This juried competition recognizes new and up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world for their achievements in narrative filmmaking. A $2500 cash prize is awarded to the film that demonstrates standout achievements in creativity, storytelling, technique, and innovation in the narrative form.




Hisham Bizri
Hisham Bizri is a filmmaker born in Beirut, Lebanon. He started working in films in the US and Hungary with filmmakers Stan Brakhage, Raoul Ruiz, and Miklós Jancsó, and has directed 28 short films and written several narrative feature films. He has taught film at MIT, UC Davis, NYU, Boston University, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), The University of Minnesota, and in Lebanon, Korea, Japan, Ireland, and Jordan where he also founded a number of academic film programs.

Most recently, he has served as Professor of Filmmaking and Screenwriting in the Literary Arts department at Brown University. Bizri’s films have shown at Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, Oberhausen, Moscow, and the Anthology Film Archives. He has won the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and the American Academy Rome Prize.

In 2015, Bizri began partnering with Jordan’s Royal Film Commission to oversee production of documentaries made by Arab filmmakers. Four short films made in this program are screening together at MSPIFF this year. See more details here.
Lori Donnelly
Lori Donnelly is an independent programming consultant who has worked with several festivals and cinematheques, including the Seattle International Film Festival, the Northwest Film Forum, The Hollywood American Legion Post 43 Cinema, The Rhode Island International Film Festival, The Tribeca Film Festival, and the Mendocino Film Festival. She has also held programming positions at the George Eastman Museum, the American Film Institute, the Brattle Film Foundation, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is a contributing writer to Filmmaker Magazine.
Sarah Pillsbury
After graduating from Yale University, Sarah Pillsbury moved to Los Angeles to continue her film studies at UCLA, and work on student film projects and produce documentaries. One of the student projects she worked on became Eraserhead (‘77) directed by AFI student David Lynch. She co-produced a short film, Board and Care (1980) that earned Pillsbury an Oscar® for Best Live Action Short Film. In 1981, she teamed up with Midge Sanford to form Sanford/Pillsbury Productions, and went on to produce numerous projects including Desperately Seeking Susan (‘85), River’s Edge (‘86) and the HBO tele-film And the Band Played On (‘93), the latter two earning the team an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy.