Producer Benjamin Odell '04 to Receive Andrew Sarris Award at CUFF

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The Columbia University Film Festival’s 17th annual Andrew Sarris Award will be presented to Benjamin Odell ’04, an alumnus of Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program. The Sarris Award, named for the late School of the Arts Film Program professor and world-renowned critic and theorist Andrew Sarris, was created by film students to honor outstanding service and artistic achievement of distinguished Film Program alumni.

The annual Andrew Sarris Award winner is selected by current School of the Arts Film Program students. Past recipients include James Ponsoldt ’05 (Off the Black, Smashed, The Spectacular Now), Jennifer Lee ’05 (Zootopia, Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph), 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 (Nebraska, Little Miss Sunshine), Shari Springer Berman ’95 and Robert Pulcini ’94 (American Splendor), Kathryn Bigelow ’81 (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), Lisa Cholodenko ’97 (Olive Kitteridge, 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).

Benjamin Odell is a partner of 3pas Studios with Mexican comedian and director Eugenio Derbez. Derbez’s last movie Instructions Not Included is the most successful Spanish language film of all time globally and the fourth highest grossing foreign language film in the US. 3pas has a first look deal with Lionsgate’s Pantelion Films. How to be a Latin Lover with Derbez, Salma Hayek, Kristen Bell and Rob Lowe will be released on April 28. They are currently prepping a remake of MGM’s Overboard with Anna Farris and Derbez. 3Pas also has a first look deal with Universal Television.

Previously, Odell was President of Production for Pantelion Films. Amongst others, he produced Spare Parts, starring George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis and Marisa Tomei and Girl In Progress with Eva Mendez and Patricia Arquette and directed by School of the Arts alumna Patricia Riggen ’03.

Odell also produced many films independently such as Un Cuento Chino (a Spanish/Argentinean co-production), which won the Argentinean Academy Award for Best Feature and the Goya and the Spanish Academy Award for Best Latin American Film.   

He also produced the Spanish language thriller Sangre de Mi Sangre, which won the Grand Jury prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Sangre also received two Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best First Feature (for which Odell was nominated) and Best Screenplay. Sangre was directed by School of the Arts alumnus Christopher Zalla ’04.

Odell was a freelance journalist in Colombia, South America before becoming a television writer.  He wrote and created over 300 hours of programming. He also co-wrote the political satire feature, Golpe de Estadio. Golpe was nominated for Spain’s Academy Award, the Goya, in 1999, and was Colombia’s nomination to the Oscar in 2000. Odell received his MFA in Film from Columbia University School of the Arts in 2004.

This year’s festival will open with Screenwriting Night and an Alumni Reception on Wednesday, May 10, to be held at The Riverside Theatre. Thesis short films will be screened from Thursday, May 11 through Saturday, May 13 at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center. The Sarris Award will be presented on Sunday, May 14, at 9pm during the Festival’s Student Selects Night at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.

The 30th Annual Columbia University Film Festival opens in New York on May 10, and runs through May 15. Its Los Angeles run will be held June 13-15.

Visit for up-to-date information and additional events, as well as a full list of Festival films, synopses, filmmaker bios and ticket information.

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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.