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SOA Film Division Presents 17th Annual Film Festival, May 1 - May 7
From the short film God is Good, directed by Caryn Waechter

The Film Division of Columbia University's School of the Arts, one of the nation's leading training programs for filmmaking, will present a weeklong festival of original film screenings and screenplay readings from May 1 to May 7 in New York City . A selection of the films will be presented June 2 and 3 in Los Angeles.

More than half of the 39 short films in this year's festival were written and directed by women. In addition, the diversity of experience of Asians and Asian-Americans features prominently with films that range from a peek into a typical day on a Bollywood film set in Bombay, India ( Room for One ), to a young Pakistani-American woman studying in London who is torn between her Muslim faith and her desires ( Aisha, the American ), to a "quarter-life crisis" experienced by a young man originally from Hong Kong who looks for work in New York City ( Life at 25 ).

Although the Film Division is traditionally known for producing fiction films, this year's Festival includes several documentary shorts, such as the struggle of a Staten Island ventriloquist who tries to improve his career by painting his black dummy white ( Soul in a Suitcase ); storytellers from across the United States who weave together a collective narrative ( American Exquisite ); and members of a Harlem family who recount the challenges they have faced since Gordon Parks photographed them in 1968 for Life magazine ( Family Portrait ).

"We are proud this year that many of the films are by women and that the festival features the full spectrum of international and culturally diverse artists who are represented here," said Bruce Ferguson, dean of Columbia 's School of the Arts. "I am always thrilled to be a part of this emerging force of contemporary filmmakers and to work with their committed faculty."

The Columbia University Film Festival begins with screenings of seven different programs of short films at the DGA Theater at 110 West 57 th Street , Saturday, May 1 Monday, May 3, at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Tuesday, May 4 screening of shorts, HBO Films Night , will be held at 7 p.m. at the DGA Theater.

On Friday, May 7, the Faculty Selects program, featuring short films selected by the Film Division faculty as the best of the 2004 Festival, will screen at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the DGA Theater. After the 7 p.m. Faculty Selects screening, more than $110,000 in awards will be presented to Columbia students.

On Thursday, May 6, Faculty Selects Screenplay Readings will be presented at 6 p.m. at the McGraw Hill Theater, 1221 Avenue of the Americas at 49 th Street . After the reading, alumna Sabrina Dhawan will receive the Andrew Sarris Award. Dhawan wrote Monsoon Wedding, one of the Top Ten highest-grossing foreign films of all time in the United States and the winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

The Columbia University Film Festival has earned an international reputation as a launching pad for emerging talent. Columbia Film Division students have won Student Academy Award Gold Medals in six of the past seven years. In that tradition, one of the films in this year's festival will compete for a 2004 Student Academy Award.

Films from the 2003 Columbia Festival have gone on to screen at prestigious international festivals including: Berlin , Cannes , New York , Palm Springs , Sundance and Telluride. Recent films by Film Division alumni include Laurel Canyon, written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko ('97); Identity, directed by James Mangold ('99); and 2004 Academy Award nominee and winner of the 2003 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, American Splendor , written and directed by Shari Springer Berman ('95) and Robert Pulcini ('94).

Tickets for the film screenings and screenplay readings are $10 per program and are on sale now. They can be purchased at http://www.ticketweb.com, or at the door.

The festival is sponsored by @radical.media, The Bridges/Larson Foundation, Comedy Central, Eastman Kodak, The Ezra Litwak Fund, Mr. Guoxi Fu, Hallmark Entertainment, HBO Films, IFP/New York, Industrias Audiovisuales Argentinas S.A. "Cinecolor," IMAX Corporation, Kim's Video, Lifetime Entertainment Services, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Microsoft, National Board of Review, New Line Cinema, Screen Actors Guild/SAGIndie, Tribeca Entertainment, and Twentieth Century Fox.

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Published: Apr 29, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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