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May 20, 2011 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / publicity photos attached (high-res available)

Media Contact: Marla Carpenter, 336-770-3337, carpem@uncsa.edu






WINSTON-SALEM – A film by University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) School of Filmmaking alumnus Jeff Nichols won the Grand Prix Thursday at the 50th annual Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival.


Nichols also took the Best Screenwriting Award from the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers at Critics’ Week.


TAKE SHELTER, a psychological drama, was written and directed by Nichols, who received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing from UNCSA in 2001.


From Austin, Texas, Nichols recently returned to his alma mater to host “Conversations with Michael Shannon” at the 2011 RiverRun International Film Festival. Shannon stars in TAKE SHELTER and won the Emerging Master Award at RiverRun.

Earlier this year, TAKE SHELTER premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was in the Dramatic Competition. The film was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for a U.S. debut on Oct. 7.


The film is about a working-class husband and father who questions whether his terrifying dreams of an apocalyptic storm signal something real to come or the onset of an inherited mental illness he's feared his whole life. In addition to Shannon, the cast features Jessica Chastain (who currently stars with Brad Pitt in TREE OF LIFE), Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon and Kathy Baker.


Numerous School of Filmmaking alumni worked on TAKE SHELTER, including Adam Stone, cinematographer; camera crew Dylan Conrad, Neil Moore and Alex Sablow; editors Cosmo Grimes and Steven Gonzales; and Matt Zboyovski.


Reviews of the film have been glowing. John Lopez in Vanity Fair said: “Movies can occasionally be works of art. Take Shelter is such a film… .”  Justin Chang in Variety said: “Adam Stone’s widescreen cinematography is simply pristine, making poetic use of shadows and capturing the dolorous beauty of the film’s Midwestern landscape… .”  Lee Marshall in ScreenDaily said: “Perhaps the film’s greatest strength … is the way it combines hints that we’re watching a parable of the new U.S. climate of anxiety with an unflinching dedication to the reality of its characters’ plights.”


Cannes Critics’ Week highlights first and second films from directors. This is Nichols’ second effort; his first film, SHOTGUN STORIES, was also critically acclaimed during its numerous festival screenings.


The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. UNCSA is located at 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.