PITTSBURGH, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Art Institute of Pittsburgh alumni Steve Hoover, Rocky Braat, Danny Yourd and Tyson Vansgiver walked across the Sundance Film Festival Awards stage as U.S. Documentary Grand Prize and Audience Award winners for their film "Blood Brother," making themselves true champions of their own message.
"This means so much to so many kids that are going to benefit from their story being told," said Director/ Editor Steve Hoover. "The win was surreal."
The documentary film is the story of Rocky Braat and his work with HIV and AIDS children that have been abandoned in a town of India an hour south of Chennai. Braat's life-changing decision to forgo a career in graphic design to live with and help the children delivers the earnest message of love, friendship, and the challenges these children face."We extend congratulations to our alumni and are very proud to see them utilizing their talents and skills to foster a greater sense of community through their work," said John Mazzoni, President of The Art Institutes. "Winning awards at the Sundance Film Festival is a testament to the hard work of these alumni as well as our faculty and staff at the school who are dedicated to achieving excellence and helping students reach their educational goals." Chosen as one of the 56 feature and documentary films from a pool of 4,044 submissions, "Blood Brother" will continue in the film festival circuit. The film was also chosen as an official selection for the Santa Barbara Film Festival this January and for Big Sky Documentary Film Fest from February 15-24 in Missoula, Montana. "Our next steps are to work closely with our sales team to figure out the best plan for distribution both in the US/ Canada and worldwide," said Producer Danny Yourd. "Winning at Sundance has opened up a lot of doors that will eventually translate into huge benefits for Rocky's efforts and the children as well as other HIV/AIDS efforts - this really excites us." Hoover and Yourd's advice to current film students, especially those from their alma mater, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. "Use the resources and equipment at your disposal and get your hands dirty. You'll make mistakes, but learn from them and don't give up. Find a mentor or internship and just really push yourself to continue to learn and grow," they advise. The Blood Brother crew has already started working on their next feature documentary which is another character-driven story.