The 15th annual Columbia University Film Festival will hit the stage and big screen in New York City beginning on Wednesday, April 3, and Thursday, April 4, with Screenwriters' Night at the McGraw-Hill Theater, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, and continues Monday, April 8, through Thursday, April 11, at the Clearview East Cinemas, 59th Street East Theater (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). The festival will then move to Writers Guild of America West in Los Angeles on May 7 and 8. These events are sponsored by @radical.media, HBO Films, New Line Cinema, Kim's Video, SAGIndie, Tribeca Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros. and others.
The 46 films and digital videos to be screened this year range from the dark: friendship tested by inner-city crime, and the funny: a former porn-star leads a skin-flick workshop; to the whimsical: identity filtered through a Zen lens, an outrageous heist, captured in a virtuoso long-take. Many of the films were produced outside of the United States, in countries from Mexico to Germany. This wide scope reflects both the international composition of the student body and the expansive concerns of the filmmakers.
Highlights of the festival include: Stefanie Berk's "Gunplay," is a coming-of-age story about a girl and her relationship with her father; Gregor Clark's "Linoleum"tells of theft, adultery, betrayal and lost love; Patricia Riggen's Spanish language film "La Milpa" (The Cornfield), tackles desire, simple faith and Latin American revolutionaries; Sasha Kobow's "Vergiss Mein Nicht" (Against Sadness) charts the lengths taken by a boy for his mentally ill mother, and Sonny Quinn's "25, 5 & 3" follows an ex-con's painful road to redemption.
A complete listing of the films, along with descriptions and schedules are available through the festival's website. Tickets may also be purchased through the website.
"The next great name in film and its future is likely to come from a graduating class that looks just like this one: bright, international and diverse," says Bruce Ferguson, dean of the School of the Arts.
The Columbia University Film Festival has earned a reputation as a place to spot emerging talent. Columbia film students have won Student Academy Award Gold Medals four of the last five years. Many young filmmakers who introduce their work at the festival go on to major careers just a year or two out of the Columbia program. Recent examples include director-writer Kimberly Peirce and writer Andrew Bienen ("Boys Don't Cry"), director James Mangold ("Kate and Leopold" and "Girl, Interrupted"). The 2000 festival winner for best film, "One Day Crossing," directed by Joan Stein, written by Christina Lazaridi and produced by Karen Severns, was nominated for the Academy Award for best short film (live action).
Other recent accomplishments of film division alumni include:
- Sabrina Dhawan (SOA '02) and adjunct film professor Mira Nair ("Mississippi Masala," "Salaam Bombay!") respectively wrote and directed "Monsoon Wedding," which won the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice International Film Festival and was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award.
- Dave Silver won First Prize for Best Short Film at the 2002 Sundance Festival for "Gasline," which premiered at the 2001 Columbia festival.
- David Kartch directed "Zen and the Art of Landscaping," winner of the Gold Medal for Best Narrative Film at the 2001 Student Academy Awards. This film premiered at the 2000 Columbia festival.
- Kazuo Ohno's "For Our Man," one of this year's Faculty-Selects films, won First Prize for Best Narrative Short at the 2002 South by Southwest Festival.
- Elias Leon Siminiani's "Dos Mas" took first place in the Drama category at the 2002 Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Student Awards, after premiering at the 2001 festival.
- HBO licensing for the 2000 festival winner for best comedy, "Finbar Lebowitz," directed by Rona Mark, and produced by Jennifer Smith who won a festival HBO Producers Development Award.