Columbia University School of the Arts Connects to the Industry with the 29th Columbia University Film Festival in Los Angeles June 13 – 17, 2016

May 27, 2016

Filmmaker/Screenwriter Annemarie Jacir ’02 has received prestigious Andrew Sarris Award

Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program has announced the Los Angeles programming for the 29th annual Columbia University Film Festival (CUFF), to include a two-day ScriptConnect industry networking event and the CUFF Jury Selects Screening and reception. CUFF is a celebration of the current graduate Film Program’s student work, with screenings and events each year in both New York and Los Angeles.

The Jury Selects Screening, representing some of the best of this year’s graduate Film Program shorts as judged by the Festival Jury, will be on Thursday, June 16 at 7:00pm at the Linwood Dunn Theater, 1313 Vine Street, Los Angeles, and is open to the public. The 2016 Festival Jury is comprised of faculty of the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program and, for the fourth year running, outside jurors from the industry, including Cinereach Head of Creative Initiatives Caroline Kaplan and BAFTA NY CEO Julie La’Bassiere. The Jury also included faculty members Trey EllisBette GordonJamal JosephTom Kalin, and Jack Lechner. The screening will also include a top pick of the CUFF Student Selects Committee, made up of student representatives in creative producing, screenwriting and directing from all years of the Program.
The films selected (with writer/directors and lead Columbia producers noted) are:

Red Apples
Director: George Sikharulidze
Writer/Producer: Ophelia Harutyunyan

Writer/Director: Yudho Aditya

Producer: Valerie Castillo Martinez 

Nocturne in Black 

Writer/Director: Jimmy Keyrouz
Producer: Felecia Hunter 

And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow's Eye 

Writer/Director: Francisca Alegría
Producer: Birgit Gernböck 


Writer/Director: Mounia Akl

Producer: Cyril Aris
Co-Writer: Clara Roquet
(An official selection in the Cinéfondation of the 69th Cannes Film Festival)   

I'm in Here 

Writer/Director: Willy Berliner
Producer: Julie O'Leary
(This film is a Student Selects Committee pick.)

The screening will be followed by a reception sponsored by the Columbia Alumni Association.

Visit for film information.
Many of the films premiered over the past 29 years have gone on to win top awards and honors at prestigious festivals worldwide. The Lunch DateAdam Davidson’s ’91 thesis film, was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2013. Above the Sea, produced by Lily Niu ’13 as her thesis, and written and directed byKeola Racela ’15, was the Gold Medal winner in the Narrative category at the 2014 Student Academy Awards, continuing a four-year winning streak: Un Mundo Para Raul (A World for Raul), directed by Mauro Mueller ’13, won the Bronze Medal in 2013; Under, directed by Mark Raso ’12, won Gold in 2012; and in 2011 Shawn Wines ’12 won Silver for High Maintenance. This past year, Day 39, directed by Jesse Gustafson ’15 and produced by Joshua Cohen ’14, was a finalist for that award, and Getting In, directed by Stian Hafstad ’15 and produced by Ophelia Harutyunyan ’15, was a semi-finalist. I Am John Wayne, directed by Christina Choe ’12, was awarded the Grand Jury Sparky Award for Short Film at the 2012 Slamdance Film Festival, and the Recorder Exam, directed by Bora Kim ’11, won the 2012 DGA Best Woman Student Filmmaker Award. Standing8, directed by Michael Molina Minard ’16 and produced by Ophelya Harutyunyan ’15, won a 2015 DGA Student Film Award. As mentioned above, Submarine was an official selection in the Cinéfondation this year at the Cannes Film Festival. In addition,Léthé, directed by student Dea Kulumbegashvili and produced by student Ilan Amouyal, screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section. The 2016 BAFTA US Student Awards have recognized three films made by Columbians: finalist El Adiós, written and directed by Clara RoquetPitter Patter Goes My Heart, written and directed byChristoph Rainer ’15; and Stay Awake by director/writer Jamie Sisley ’15, produced by Sarah Dorman ’14.

ScriptConnect is a two-day industry networking event to be held this year on Tuesday, June 14 and Wednesday, June 15, at the FilmL.A. offices, 6255 West Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, CA. It is an invitation-only event that allows for the industry to have one-on-one meetings with the brightest up-and-coming screenwriters on the scene from Columbia’s Film Program. In past years, ScriptConnect has been very successful at bringing representatives and new talent together. Recent success stories include Ben Seccombe ’12, who signed with Gersh and is now with Comedy Central; Brian Birch ’14, who also signed with Gersh and Circle of Confusion and is working with Maven Pictures on a feature script; Brandon Zuck ’14, who signed with Energy Entertainment, is now with The Mission; and Jesse Gustafson ’15 who signed with Untitled Entertainment. Andrew Ruiz ’15 and Tesia Walker ’15 both found representation through last year’s ScriptConnect.

“We are excited to bring our graduate students and their work to the attention of the LA film industry at a screening at the Linwood Dunn/AMPAS Theatre and through many industry meetings that week,” noted Maureen A. Ryan, Chair of the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program. “The success of our alumni working Hollywood is a testament to their advanced training in the art of visual storytelling. These meetings and events help our latest group of newcomers make their transition to new careers in Los Angeles.”

Columbia University’s School of the Arts Film Program is one of the most prestigious programs in the country and boasts a graduate list that includes Moira Demos ’08 and Laura Ricciardi ’07 (Making a Murderer), Jennifer Lee ’05 (ZootopiaFrozenWreck-It Ralph), Simon Kinberg ’03 (The MartianSherlock Holmes), Kathryn Bigelow ’81 (The Hurt LockerZero Dark Thirty), Nicole Holofcener ’88 (Enough Said), Ron Nyswaner(PhiladelphiaHomeland), and Lisa Cholodenko (Olive KitteridgeThe Kids Are All Right) and an esteemed faculty that has included Tom KalinMira NairRamin BahraniIra Sachs and Bette Gordon.
Columbia alumni in LA, including Demos and Ricciardi, have been enjoying a number of high-profile successes. Among those achievements: Lisa Rubin ’13 is the writer and co-executive producer of psychological thriller Gypsystarring Naomi Watts, which Netflix will premiere in 2017; I Smile Back was directed by Adam Salky ’08 and stars Sarah Silverman; and Phil Johnston ’05 was co-writer, along with Jennifer Lee ’05, of the hit film Zootopia.

The Andrew Sarris Award

Annemarie Jacir ’02 received this year’s Andrew Sarris Award, named for the late School of the Arts Film Program professor and world-renowned critic and theorist, honoring outstanding service by and artistic achievement of distinguished Film Program alumni.

Annemarie Jacir is an independent filmmaker and screenwriter living in Jordan. Named one of Filmmakermagazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Cinema, two of her films have premiered as Official Selections at the Cannes Film Festival, one as an Academy Award qualifier, and one in Venice. Her first feature film, Salt of This Sea, was Palestine’s official Oscar Entry for Best Foreign Language Film and was also noted as the first feature film directed by a Palestinian woman. Jacir co-founded Philistine Films, an independent production company, focusing on productions related to the Arab world and has been involved in numerous productions. Her short film, like twenty impossibles (2003), the first Palestinian short film to be selected in competition as an official selection of the Cannes International Film Festival (Cinéfondation), went on to be a Student Academy Awards Finalist, and has won more than 15 awards at International festivals.

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 BlackSmashedThe Spectacular NowJennifer Lee ’05 (ZootopiaFrozenWreck-It Ralph), Adam Davidson ’91 (The Lunch DateSix Feet UnderLostCommunity),Malia Scotch Marmo ’88 (RafinaMadelineHookOnce Around), Greg Mottola ’91 (Super Bad), Albert Berger ’83 (NebraskaLittle Miss Sunshine), Shari Springer Berman ’95 and Robert Pulcini ’94 (American Splendor), Kathryn Bigelow ’81 (The Hurt LockerZero 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 (CarrieBoys Don’t Cry), James Mangold ’99 (WolverineWalk the Line), and Nicole Holofcener ’88 (Enough SaidPlease Give).

To date, the Columbia University Film Festival has received generous support from
Adobe, Adorama Rental Company, AFM & SAG-AFTRA, The ASCAP Foundation, The Beam Foundation, The Richard Brick Fund for Special Distinction in Line Producing, The Bridges/Larson Foundation, Brooklyn Brewery, Chockstone Pictures, Columbia Alumni Association, Joyce and Laureen R. Callo, EuroChannel, Film L.A., Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Final Draft, Fox, Dan Gordon, HBO, The Michael Hausman/Filmhaus Foundation, IFP, The Ezra Litwak Fund, MBS Equipment, Movie Magic, MSR Studios, National Board of Review, Paramount, The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, Franz W. Sichel Foundation, SimonSays Entertainment, Technicolor PostWorks New York, Judith and Jesse Thompkins, Variety, and Vimeo.