Submarine
Directed by Mounia Akl '17

Columbia Alumni Shortlisted for BAFTA Student Film Awards

June 7, 2017

The shortlist for the 2017 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Student Film Awards includes two films made by Columbia alumni. The films are Submarine by Mounia Akl ’17 and Nocturne in Black by Jimmy Keyrouz. Both films are shortlisted in the Live Action category.

Akl’s Submarine showed at Cannes earlier this spring (trailer here). The film centers on a garbage crisis in Lebanon and, in the words of its Indiegogo fundraising page, “takes a look at those who find themselves forced to leave their home, and everything it represents.” Akl worked with two fellow Columbia affiliates on the film: co-writer Clara Roquet and Cyril Aris, who served as producer. The film was recently censored in Lebanon. In response to the censoring, Aris said, “To the entities responsible for the censorship: we only held up a mirror, and you must have felt too ashamed with your reflection that you decided to silence it. If you are ashamed of the Lebanon we portray in the film, remember that we are ashamed every single day of you, and our government that gives us the illusion of democracy.”

Alumni Jimmy Keyrouz’s Nocturne in Black, which was produced by fellow alumna Felecia Hunter, tells of a musician living in the Middle East who attempts to reconstruct his piano after it is damaged by jihadists (trailer here). The film was one of five films chosen for the Jury Selects lineup at the 2016 Columbia University Film Festival (CUFF). It has also received a National Board of Review Student Grant, a Caucus Foundation production grant, the 2016 Marion Carter Green Award, and was a Student Academy Award semi-finalist.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, BAFTA considered more than 400 films for this year’s competition. The dramatic increase in submissions was a result of the academy’s decision to open its competition, for the first time ever, to film schools outside the US. Finalists for the awards will be announced in the coming weeks. The award ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on June 22.