Jason van Genderen scoops top prize at UK Sundance for short Red Earth Hip Hop

02 May, 2013 by Emily Blatchford

Jason van Genderen at Sundance London


Terrigal based filmmaker Jason van Genderen has won first prize in the Nokia Music sponsored Sundance London competition for his six-minute short. 

Shot entirely on a Nokia Lumia 920 Smartphone, van Genderen’s film Red Earth Hip Hop explores how hip hop music is helping preserve Indigenous local languages and stories in remote communities.

The film was made after Nokia Music and Sundance asked filmmakers from all over the world to submit a 60 second trailer pitching an underground music story. Of over 280 films, van Genderen and Glasgow’s Bartosz Madejski were selected as the two global finalists. They were each awarded $5000 and two Nokia Lumia 290 smartphones with which to complete their film (with only a week to do it).

Both short films premiered and Sundance London, with Red Earth Hip Hop declared as the overall winner.

“I was blown away, it was just incredible,” van Genderen says. “I was completely convinced the other finalist was going to win.”

Both Madejski and van Genderen were surprised at the quality of their films on the big screen considering they were shot entirely on phones.

“Our films were shown after the premiere of the new American Noise series, which are six short films about underground music in America. It was just a beautiful introduction for our two shorts… [and the other films] were shot on film or digital and then up came up two films shot up on smart phones. They held up surprisingly well on the big screen, we were both really surprised.”

According to van Genderen, both finalist projects were “really well received” and it wasn’t until Monday he found out he was the winner.

“It was funny because I wasn’t receiving my emails as I had problem with my wifi,” van Genderen says. “Then Bartosz called me and said, ‘Congratulations, you’re the winner!’”

Of Red Earth Hip Hop, Director of Progamming for Sundance, Trevor Groth, said, "We find this [film] very engaging and illuminating. Red Earth Hip Hop may be as underground and unique as you could get by reframing the way we think about seemingly disparate but intrinsincally linked styles of music."

As the overall winner, van Genderen received an additional $5000, some of which he has donated back to the Indigenous community which featured in Red Earth Hip Hop.

A cyclone near the area of filming has prevented van Genderen letting the community know the film has won, but he says he can't wait to inform them their participation paid off in more ways than one. 

"To be able to share a story with a lot of heart in it, about an Indigenous community, to rest of the world, and to let their flavour of music get out there… it's just amazing," he said. 

View Red Earth Hip Hop below.