School of the Arts Alumni

('81SOA) - Ron Nyswaner is a screenwriter, playwright, activist, and author. He wrote the screenplay for The Painted Veil, an adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s novel, for which he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination and the National Board of Review’s Best Adapted Screenplay Award.
('04SOA) - Odell is currently partner of 3Pas Studios with Mexican comedian and director Eugenio Derbez. Derbez is Mexico’s most beloved comic star and his previous movie, Instructions Not Included, made over a 100 million dollars worldwide becoming the highest grossing Spanish language film of all time in the US, and the second highest grossing film in any language in Mexico. 3Pas Studios has a first look deal with Pantelion Films, the joint venture between U.S. entertainment studio Lionsgate and Mexican media conglomerate, Estudios Televisa.
('06SOA) - Ian Olds is a director of both narrative and documentary work. He directed Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi, a feature-length documentary that follows the relationship between an Afghan interpreter and his client, American journalist Christian Parenti. The film won Best New Documentary Filmmaker at the Tribeca Film Festival, First Prize of the Jury at Documenta Madrid, and the Special Jury Prize at Pesaro Film Festival.
SOA '72 - Gregory Orr is the author of ten collections of poetry, the most recent being River Inside the River (Norton, 2013). He is also the author of a memoir, The Blessing, which was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the fifty best nonfiction books of 2002.
Alumna - Julie Otsuka is the author of two novels, The Buddha in the Attic, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award, France’s Prix Femina Étranger, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, and When the Emperor Was Divine, which won the Asian American Literary Award and the American Library Association Alex Award. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages and sold over 600,000 copies.
('04SOA) - David Pastor is a writer and director. He made his feature debut with Carriers, which he co-wrote and co-directed with his brother Àlex Pastor. The horror film starred Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Emily VanCamp as four friends facing difficult choices as they flee a deadly pandemic. Pastor’s most recent work has been writing episodes for the Spanish science-fiction series El barco, which chronicles the aftermath of a catastrophic accident in a particle accelerator.
Diane Paulus
('97SOA) - Diane Paulus is the Artistic Director of the A.R.T. at Harvard University and was selected for the 2014 TIME 100, TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Paulus is the 2013 recipient of the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical (Pippin).
Kimberly Peirce
('96SOA) - In her unflinching debut feature film, the acclaimed Boys Don’t Cry, Kimberly Peirce staked her place as a director of singular vision and craft, while shining a light on the shifting landscape of gender, identity and assimilation.
('05SOA) - James Ponsoldt is a filmmaker originally from Athens, Georgia. He received his BA from Yale and his MFA from the Film Program at Columbia University School of the Arts. His films, which include Off the Black, Smashed and The Spectacular Now, have won prizes at the Sundance Film Festival, been nominated for Independent Spirit Awards, and honored by the National Board of Review.
Dmitry Povolotsky
('08SOA) - Dmitry Povolotsky is a writer, director, and choreographer living in Brooklyn. At the age of 10, he was selected to attend the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow to study classical ballet. After graduating from the academy nine years later, Dmitry was awarded a full scholarship to Juilliard in New York City, where he received a BFA in modern dance and choreography. Dmitry remained in New York City to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet for eight seasons and to teach ballet and choreograph for inner city youth at the Harlem School of the Arts.
('07SOA) - Beth Raymer is the author of Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling (Spiegel & Grau, 2010). The film adaptation of Lay the Favorite, starring Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, premiered at the 2012 Sundance festival and will have its theatrical release this fall. Raymer has written for The Atlantic and The New York Times Magazine. She is currently working on a play and a coming-of-age novel, Sweetheart Deals, which will be published by Spiegel & Grau in 2013.
SOA Alumna - Television producer and writer Vanessa Reisen has worked on a number of hit shows. Most recently, she has worked as supervising producer and writer for Showtime’s Californication, starring David Duchovny. Before that, she served in a similar capacity for Weeds, another popular Showtime drama. She has also served as writer and producer for CBS’s Swingtown and ABC’s Traveler.
('03) - Patricia Riggen is one of the few Latin-American female directors working in Hollywood. Originally from Mexico, she started her career as a screenwriter and producer. She earned an MFA in directing and screenwriting at Columbia University. Her thesis film, The Cornfield, a period short film set during the Mexican revolution, received 20 awards, among them the Student Academy Award and a Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award.
('04SOA) - Mika Rottenberg was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She attended Hamidrasha Art College, Beit Berl Academic College in Israel; and received a BFA from the School of the Visual Arts in New York, before graduating with an MFA from Columbia in 2004. She has had solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery in New York, Mary Boone Gallery in New York, and La Maison Rouge in Paris, among other places.
('00SOA) - Ken Rus Schmoll is a theater director who has achieved a string of Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway successes. Recently, he garnered positive reviews with Will Eno’s Middletown (Vineyard Theatre). He won an Obie Award for his direction of Ariana Reine’s Telephone (Cherry Lane), a tryptich the poet adapted from Avital Ronell’s philosophic work The Telephone Book.
('06SOA) - Karen Russell’s imaginative, energetic and lyrical fiction has earned her much recognition in the literary world and beyond. Russell is the author of two collections of short stories, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (2006) and Vampires in the Lemon Grove (2013), the novella Sleep Donation, and the novel Swamplandia!. She is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2013 MacArthur Fellow.
('04SOA) - Beth Schacter wrote and directed Normal Adolescent Behavior for New Line Cinemas. Starring Amber Tamblyn, the film premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. Schacter worked on the script at the 2004 IFP/LA screenwriters’ lab. She also cowrote Forget Me Nots for Emerging Pictures. Starring Vivian Wu and directed by Ann Hu, the film premiered at the 2005 LA Film Festival. Her journalism has appeared in Radar Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, Latina Magazine, and The Huffington Post. Schacter is a graduate of the Columbia M.F.A.
Jay Scheib, by Naomi White
('02SOA) - A 2011/12 Guggenheim Fellow, and 2012 OBIE Winner for best Direction, Scheib is a director, designer and author of plays, operas and live art events.
Dana Schutz
('02 SOA) - Dana Schutz’s ecstatically imaginative paintings, executed in a vibrant, subjective palette, have made a major contribution to the discourse of painting since the artist first began exhibiting her work ten years ago. Schutz’s paintings depict stories or situations that she invents and develops into imaginary worlds, laid out in a vibrant and bold palette, and with a sophisticated and remarkable mastering of the painting medium.
('88SOA) - Malia Scotch Marmo is a screenwriter who has written a number of hit films, including Stephen Spielberg’s Hook, on which she shares writing credits with James V. Hart. She also served as an associate producer for the film, a Peter Pan story starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, and Maggie Smith. She wrote Lasse Hallström’s first American film, Once Around, a romantic comedy-drama starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, Danny Aiello, and Laura San Giacomo.
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.