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Unprecedented Showing by CalArts Graduates at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival


Inside CalArts’ Bijou Theater. Photo: Scott Groller.

20 percent of films in Sundance Shorts Program made by CalArts filmmakers

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival will include eight films by seven alumni of California Institute of the Arts’ (CalArts) School of Film Video. This extraordinary recognition reflects CalArts singular devotion to filmmaking as a personal, independent art form.

The seven short films and one feature will premier in Park City this January. Out of the thirty-two films in the Sundance "Shorts Program," seven, or 20 percent, were made by CalArts alumni. Three of the films originated as MFA thesis films. The breadth of the films presented is as significant as their number—with festival selections spanning all four programs of the School of Film/Video: Character Animation, Experimental Animation, Film and Video and Film Directing.

In addition, CalArts School of Theater alumnus Lars Jan will present the multimedia piece ABACUS, which includes video as well as live performance, in the festival’s New Frontiers series.

CalArts filmmakers at Sundance include:

Andrew Ahn, First Birthday (MFA thesis film)

Rhys Ernst, The Thing (MFA thesis film)

Aurora Guerrero, Mosquita y Mari, This is the first feature by a Chicana filmmaker who was previously a Sundance Institute and Ford Foundation Fellow.

Kang Min Kim, 38-39 Degrees Celsius (MFA thesis film)

Christopher Peters, The Diatom

Kataneh Vahdani, Avocados

Travis Wilkerson, Pluto Declaration and Fragments of Dissolution

“This extraordinary showing at Sundance reflects the talent and truly inventive spirit of CalArts trained filmmakers and the faculty who mentored them,” said School of Film/Video Dean Steve Anker. “The level of achievement in our school has always been high, but in recent years, we’ve seen more awards, and recognition at festivals and in museums—all for work by filmmakers who share a fierce independence and an uncompromising commitment to a personal voice.  The attention and acclaim received by alumni and faculty draws impressive students to the school and creates a strong community of serious and committed filmmakers in all stages of their careers.”

CalArts was named number six among the county’s top 25 film schools for 2011 by the Hollywood Reporter. This year, marked the latest stride in a remarkable run by the live-action contingent of the School of Film/Video, internationally famous for its animation pedigree, and for the renowned alumni behind pop-cultural forces from Pixar to SpongeBob SquarePants. In 2011, alumna Natasha Mendonca took home the top prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Her powerful film essay, Jan Villa, about the aftermath of the 2005 monsoon floods in Mumbai, had earlier won in Rotterdam. Alumnus Mike Ott, director of the intimately observed, idiosyncratic California small-town drama LITTLEROCK, collected the “Someone to Watch” Spirit Award at the “alternative” Oscars precursor. CalArts graduate Tariq Tapa, whose taut Kashmir-set Zero Bridge had a weeklong run at New York’s Film Forum and received accolades at festivals worldwide, and Jason Byrne, with the maritime documentary Scrap Vessel, have made Filmmaker magazine’s list of the “25 New Faces of Independent Cinema.”  Click here to read more about films from CalArts.

Last edited by dthatt on Dec 15, 2011
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