Columbia University Film Festival Returns to the Film Society in May

Posted by Brian Brooks on 4.16.2014

Screenings, dramatic readings, and other special events are on tap for the 27th annual Columbia University Film Festival, co-sponsored for the third year by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Writer/director Jennifer Lee (Frozen) will receive this year's Andrew Sarris Award.

The festival, taking place May 2-8, showcases the premieres of over 40 thesis short films and feature screenplays by MFA students at Columbia's Arts Film Program. Many of the films premiered during the event have gone on to win top awards festivals worldwide. The Lunch Date, Adam Davidson’s thesis film, was recently added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Un Mundo Para Raul (A World for Raul), directed by Mauro Mueller (’13), won the Bronze Medal in the Narrative category at the Student Academy Awards in 2013. Mark Raso's Under received a Gold Medal in the Narrative category at the 2012 Student Academy Awards, while I Am John Wayne, by Christina Choe, was awarded the Grand Jury Sparky Award for Short Film at the 2012 Slamdance Film Festival. Bora Kim's The Recorder Exam took the 2012 DGA Best Woman Student Filmmaker Award, and High Maintenance, written and directed by Shawn Wines, won a Silver Medal at the 2011 Student Academy Awards.

Columbia University's School of the Arts Film Program boasts a graduate list that includes Jennifer Lee (Frozen), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia), and Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right) and an esteemed faculty that has included Milos Forman, Martin Scorsese, Emir Kusturica, and Paul Schrader.

"Supporting emerging filmmakers is an important focus for the Film Society," said Film Society of Lincoln Center's Executive Director Lesli Klainberg, "We are delighted to welcome back the Columbia University Film Festival and their talented new student filmmakers."

On Sunday, May 4, Jennifer Lee will be present for a screening of her Oscar-winning animated feature Frozen at the Walter Reade Theater. Current students in the School of the Arts Film Program selected Lee—an alum of the school—as this year's recipient of the Andrew Sarris Award. She entered Columbia in 2001. In 2002, she received the William Goldman Award for excellence in screenwriting and the Kathryn Parlan Hearst Scholarship honoring women screenwriters. Her script Hinged on Stars won top prize at the 2004 Columbia University Film Festival and launched her career. She graduated in 2005 with an MFA in Film, and in 2006 she got her first film option for her script The Way Between.

Her next film, The Roundup, was optioned by Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way. In 2010, she moved her family across the country to begin work on Wreck-It Ralph for Walt Disney Animation Studios with fellow Columbia graduate Phil Johnston. The film went on to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature and won the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature Screenplay. As she was finishing her work on Wreck-It Ralph, Jennifer was tapped to write the screenplay for Disney’s Frozen. She also directed the film with animation veteran Chris Buck. The film has earned over one billion dollars at the box office and won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, and two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. Lee currently lives in Los Angeles with her 10-year-old daughter, Agatha.

The Andrew Sarris Award is named for the late School of the Arts Film Program professor and world-renowned critic and theorist. The prize honors "outstanding service by and artistic achievement of distinguished Film Program alumni."

Past recipients include Adam Davidson (’91, The Lunch Date, Six Feet Under, Lost, Community), Malia Scotch Marmo (’88, Rafina, Madeline, Hook, Once Around), Greg Mottola (’91, Super Bad), Albert Berger (’83, Little Miss Sunshine), Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (’95 and ’94, American Splendor), Kathryn Bigelow (’81, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), Lisa Cholodenko (’97, The Kids Are All Right), Sabrina Dhawan (’02, Monsoon Wedding), Simon Kinberg (’03, Sherlock Holmes), Kimberly Peirce (’96, Carrie, Boys Don’t Cry), James Mangold (’99, Wolverine, Walk the Line), and Nicole Holofcener (’88, Enough Said, Please Give).

Also on tap for the event is Columbia Film faculty member Frank Pugliese (House of Cards), who will lead a discussion on the new so-called “Golden Age of Television” and how aspiring artists can use their skills and talent to break into the world of TV. Panelists will include accomplished Columbia alumni with a diverse range of experience working in television as writers, directors, and producers. The event, which is free to the public, will be held Tuesday, May 6, at 7pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and will also be streamed live.

Noted Ira Deutchman, Chair of the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program: "Each year, the festival is an opportunity to take a step back and marvel at the amazing body of work that has been created by our students. We are very pleased that the Film Society is co-presenting the festival with us again this year. They are not only providing us a prestigious platform, but also validation of the quality of the work. It is an acknowledgement that there is no other film festival anywhere that showcases student work with such accomplishment, ambition and diversity."

The schedule of this year’s events is as follows:

Friday, May 2 – Sunday, May 4
Film Screenings: 2014 Showcase of MFA Films
Film Society of Lincoln Center, 
Walter Reade Theater,
165 West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam
Tickets for these screenings are $13 and go on sale at noon on Thursday, April 17 online at filmlinc.com and in person at the box offices of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Visit www.cufilmfest.com for up-to-date information, as well as a full list of festival films, synopses, filmmaker bios, and ticket information.

Sunday, May 4
2:00pm: Special Screening of Frozen and Talkback with Jennifer Lee
Film Society of Lincoln Center, 
Walter Reade Theater,
165 West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam

Monday, May 5
7:00pm: Screenwriting Night
An evening of screenplay readings.
Miller Theatre, Columbia University
2960 Broadway at 116th Street

Tuesday, May 6
Both events below are in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, 144 West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam. Complimentary tickets to both of these events may be picked up on Tuesday, May 6, only.

4:00pm: CUFF Creative Producing Pitch Contest
The art of pitching is a vital skill for any filmmaker. Join eight Columbia MFA students in the Creative Producing Program, as they display their skills in action. Students will pitch feature film projects to a panel of industry professionals gaining constructive feedback and invaluable experience. The student with the best pitch will win a one-on-one meeting with David Picker. Jury includes Jack Lechner, Anne Carey, Amy Robinson, and Michael Hausman.

7:00pm: Is it Television? The Rise of Episodic Storytelling
Panelists will include accomplished Columbia alumni with a diverse range of experience working in television as writers, directors, and producers. Moderated by Frank Pugliese (House of Cards).

Wednesday, May 7
7:00pm: Student Selects
Screenings of the favorite films of the festival as voted by students at the Columbia University School of the Arts MFA Program. Miller Theatre, Columbia University
2960 Broadway at 116th Street

Tickets to Student Selects go on sale Thursday, April 17—for additional information and to purchase tickets, visit cufilmfest.com

Thursday, May 8
7:00pm: Awards Night
Screenings and awards ceremony of the films designated as Jury Selects of the festival. The 2014 Festival Jury is comprised of faculty of the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program and, for the second time this year, outside jurors from the industry, including performing arts and film curator and producer Rachel Chanoff; filmmaker So Yong Kim; and filmmaker and playwright Douglas McGrath.

Symphony Space
2537 Broadway

[Tickets to Awards Night are on sale Thursday, April 17—for additional information and to purchase tickets, visit cufilmfest.com. Visit www.cufilmfest.com for up-to-date information, as well as a full list of festival films, synopses, filmmaker bios, and ticket information. Audience members should arrive at least 15 minutes before showtime. Seating is not guaranteed once the screening has started. Tickets can also be purchased at filmlinc.com or in person at Film Society box offices.]

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