top of page

The Alpena News - ‘Toxic Art’ wins Sanctuary Selections film competition at Thunder Bay International Film Festival

Updated: Feb 13

Alpena, MI - January 2024


Photo Courtesy of Noah Gibson. Gavin MacDonald, Executive Director for The Sunset Project, and Nick Poli, Creative Director for The Sunset Project, present the top prize of $5,000 to Jason Whalen and Chris Zuker for their film, “Toxic Art,” which earned first place in the Sanctuary Selections film competition at the Thunder Bay International Film Festival. The film screenings and awards were held Saturday night at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena.


Original Article by - Darby Hinkley for The Alpena News

Publish Date - January 29, 2024

Read the Full Article Here


This past Saturday, The Sunset Project proudly hosted the first annual Sanctuary Selections Film Competition Screening Event as a highlight of the Thunder Bay International Film Festival held at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Michigan.

 

The evening featured a pre-screening reception, individual screenings of each of the five film finalists (view here), engaging audience-driven Q&A sessions with each of the filmmakers, as well as an awards ceremony to highlight this year’s Sanctuary Selections winning film.

 

This year's winning film was “Toxic Art” by Jason Whalen and Chris Zuker of Fauna Creative, who were awarded a $5,000 prize to help fund their future film endeavors. “Toxic Art” unveils the innovative journey of turning pollution from Sunday Creek in Southeastern Ohio into a vibrant purple paint, a creative solution funding the cleanup of the creek. This project, inspired by the story brought to them by the organization Rivers are Life, showcases the power of storytelling in environmental conservation and restoration efforts.


Photo Courtesy of Darby Hinkley. “Toxic Art” filmmakers Chris Zuker and Jason Whalen react with smiles as they receive a large $5,000 check for winning the Sanctuary Selections film competition.


Jason and Chris shared their journey of collaboration over the years, emphasizing the significance of their win amidst a competitive field of 70 submissions.

 

“We were approached by an organization called Rivers are Life, who tell stories all around the world about different watersheds — good things happening, river cleanups, habitat restoration, you name it,” said Zuker, of Lansing.

 

“They approached us with this story, which made our job easy. With a story like that, it, kind of, told itself. We went in there and captured it in our style, in our unique way, and it turned out to be one of our favorite projects that we’ve worked on in the past couple of years.”

 

In addition to the winning film, The Sunset Project also honored the contributions of the four other outstanding filmmakers, awarding each a $250 prize in recognition of their involvement with this year's film competition.

 

Special thank you to all the participants, attendees, sponsors, and supporters who made this event such a success – stay tuned for more details pertaining to the Sanctuary Selections Film Competition and the Thunder Bay International Film Festival!

 


Photo Courtesy of Noah Gibson. Filmmakers and organizers gather for a photo at the Sanctuary Selections film competition on Saturday evening at the Thunder Bay International Film Festival in Alpena. Pictured, from left, are Nick Poli, Joseph Beyer, Jordan Anderson, Jason Whalen, Chris Zuker, Mario Cassem, Charlie Klipp, Hannah Tracey, Nick Lusardi, Eden Sabolboro, Gavin MacDonald, and Stephanie Gandulla. The event was held in partnership with The Sunset Project.


 

The 2024 Sanctuary Selections Film Competition was made possible in part by:


  • Bridging Michigan Grant from Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities

  • 2023 Northeast Michigan Women's Giving Circle Grant

  • Summer 2023 Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan Community Impact Grant


and The Sunset Project’s Gold Level Sponsors:


  • Stanson Floor Covering & Furniture

  • VIDS Corp.

  • Werth Electric Inc.

32 views0 comments
bottom of page