The Sundance Institute, long heralded for supporting budding moviemakers, has awarded its Annenberg Film Fellowship to Austin-based writer-director Bob Byington. The fellowship grant will help finance Byington’s upcoming film Harmony and Me, to start shooting in Austin later this year. The Sundance Institute also provided mentoring sessions with veteran screenwriters Joan Tewkesbury (Nashville), Jim Taylor (Sideways) and John Gatins (Dreamer: Inspired By a True Story) to guide Byington in fine-tuning his script.

“We are thrilled that we are able to provide key financial and creative support to Bob at this crucial juncture in the development of his new project,” says Michelle Satter, founding director of the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. “The Annenberg Film Fellowship program has been a critical tool in our support of truly independent, distinctive filmmakers. In this case, it’s allowed us to make a real difference in moving a project we believe in forward at the most impactful moment.”

Sundance bills Byington’s Harmony and Me as “the story of a heartbreak in progress.” The film, to star Justin Rice, Kevin Corrigan and Pat Healy, will be executive roduced by Stuart Bohart and Anish Savjani. Byington has also written and directed the features Olympia, which aired on the Sundance Channel in 2003, and RSO [Registered Sex Offender], which will premiere at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival.

The Annenberg Film Fellows Program began in 2004 with a grant from the Annenberg Foundation. The Program has helped 27 moviemakers to date, with 60 percent of the projects supported entering production. Previous Film Fellows include Alex Rivera, whose The Sleep Dealer premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and Taika Waititi, Oscar-nominated for his short film, Two Cars, One Night.

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