BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD - 1998
At a time when the post-Pulp Fiction thriller has run out of gas, erstwhile Minneapolitan Garret Williams filled up the tank with Spark, which uses the outlines of the road-movie thriller as a springboard for exploring the nuances of race relations in America. Williams's debut premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and was later chosen as the opening-night feature at the Mpls./St. Paul International Film Festival. Born in Minneapolis to a painter dad and a writer mom, Williams first climbed behind the camera as a photo student at Southwest High School and Augsburg College, and later as a film student at the now-defunct Film in the Cities. After being accepted to the American Film Institute, he moved to L.A., where NEA and Bush Foundation grants underwrote a 40-minute version of Spark that garnered enough critical attention--and a grant from the Blockbuster Film Fund--to allow him to refilm the story as a feature. The filmmaker reportedly has two more scripts in the works, one of which he may come home to shoot.