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Sundance jury winner has Maui roots


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POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

Destin Daniel Cretton, who grew up on Maui, just won the Sundance Film Festival's jury prize for the best short film out of the United States, accelerating his filmmaking career in ways he never thought possible.

“;Getting into Sundance was enough of a shock,”; Cretton said from his current home in San Diego. “;Winning an award? I could barely handle it.”;

As fate would have it, the presentation took place Jan. 20, the same day President Obama took the oath of office. “;So that whole day I was on this huge high. Already it was an unbelievable day because of the inauguration. It was crazy.”;

Cretton said the award also smoothed entry into prestigious festivals. He left yesterday for the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France, where “;Short Term 12,”; a fictional account of Cretton's experience working in a residential facility for abused and neglected kids, is one of only five films accepted from the U.S.

What happens next?

First, a long festival run, and then a good chance at wide distribution. “;We have a lot of people interested,”; he confirmed. This could mean anything from a presence on iTunes to having the short linked with features in theaters. “;Everything's a possibility.”;

Agents and managers began contacting him soon after the award was announced. His long-term goal is to expand the short into a feature, and he's already started developing the script. But he's not about to let the buzz of Sundance fade just yet.

“;I felt like I was in heaven,”; Cretton said of his experience as a filmmaker at the Utah retreat. “;You're just cradled into this community of film lovers and artists. For some reason there's no sense of competition with each other.”;

A film about Hurricane Katrina, nominated for an Oscar for best documentary this year, will screen at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Academy of Arts next week.

“;Trouble the Water,”; from filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal (”;Fahrenheit 9/11”;), also won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and earned raves from the New Yorker, Time Magazine and Roger Ebert.

The personal account begins the day before the storm hits, and follows aspiring rap artist Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband through their retreat from New Orleans—and their return to the devastated city.

The documentary screens at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Watch the trailer at http://www.troublethewaterfilm.com.

Maui resident Michael Munoz will appear on “;The Amazing Race 14.”; The 51-year-old stuntman will compete with his 48-year-old brother, Mark Munoz, a fellow stuntman based in Los Angeles. They join two other sibling teams on this round, possibly inspired by the sibling team that snagged the $1 million prize in “;The Amazing Race 13.”;

According to the Hartford Courant, viewers can expect a grueling course that covers nine countries in 22 days, from frigid Siberia to sweltering India. Of course, there's a massive bungee jump along the way. The new season begins on Feb. 15 on CBS.