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Quirky thriller earns Sundance/Amazon prize for USC alums

Search follows a father seeking his missing daughter from a unique point of view — computer screens and smartphones

by Cinematic Arts staff
John Cho in the movie "Search"
John Cho plays a father in Search of his missing daughter. (Photo/Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Search, a film directed by USC School of Cinematic Arts alumnus Aneesh Chaganty ’13 and co-written with Sev Ohanian MFA ’12, is one of the most buzzworthy films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Shot from the point of view of smartphones and computer screens, the thriller follows a father (John Cho) seeking his missing daughter with help from a detective (Debra Messing). The clues they pick up are found on the daughter’s laptop.

Sony Pictures has acquired global rights to the film, which earned the Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Award for Ohanian, a veteran at the festival.

Ohanian made his debut in Park City in 2013 with Fruitvale Station, which was written and directed by Ryan Coogler MFA ’11 and had more than a dozen USC graduates on the crew. Ohanian also took two other films to Sundance: Results in 2015 and The Intervention in 2016. The producers award is given for continuous work as a producer in the indie space.

Search also won the festival’s Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Prize, which comes with a $20,000 cash prize.

Part of the Sundance/Sloan Science-in-Film Initiative, the prize is presented to a feature film that focuses on science or technology as a theme. In awarding the prize, the jury or film and science professionals who chose Search said it stood out for “its gripping and original interrogation of our evolving relationship with technology and how it mediates every other relationship in our lives, both positively and negatively.”

The professionals also commended the film’s offbeat screen-view storytelling, noting its “rigorous formal experimentation with narrative.”

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Quirky thriller earns Sundance/Amazon prize for USC alums

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