The 2008 Cannes Film Festival's inclusion of two live-action and one animated film by alumni of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) reflects the Institute's reputation for excellence across genres. Xuan Jiang's (MFA, 2007) August 15th (Ba Yue Shi Wu), Mark Osborne's (BFA, 1992) Kung Fu Panda and Marcel Sawicki's (BFA, 2002) The Loneliness of the Short Order Cook will screen at this year's festival.
"I don't believe that we've ever had this representation at
Europe's premiere film festival," said Dean of CalArts School of Film/Video Steve Anker. "I can't imagine that any other school would produce students excelling in such divergent areas of cinema. CalArts is a center of all genres within the arts. This ability to cross disciplines inspires students who in turn inspire each other. They take this energy and accomplishment forward into their professional lives and we see the evidence here."
August 15th was written and directed as Jiang's thesis film at CalArts in 2007. "It is extraordinary," commented Dean Anker, "that a student's film would be selected for
Cannes." Previously, the August 15th received an Honorable Mention at the Sundance Film Festival
The short live action film was based on a true story. A young Chinese woman and her boyfriend board a bus headed home to meet his parents. However, the trip turns unpredictable when two young men hijack the bus. Traveling through
China's rural mountains, every passenger must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice to preserve their own safety and dignity.CalArts alumnus Mark Osborne and John Stevenson co-directed the animated feature Kung Fu Panda (2008) for Dreamworks. CalArts Experimental Animation program is renowned for educating leaders in the field. With Kung Fu Panda, Osborne continues the legacy of innovation in animation exemplified by alumni such as directors Steven Hillenburg, Mark Kirkland and Henry Selick.
In Osborne's film,
Po, the panda, is unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy. His dreams become reality when he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five--Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. Po puts his heart--and his girth--into the task, and the unlikely hero ultimately finds that his greatest weaknesses turn out to be his greatest strengths.
Marcel Sawicki's USA/Polish production, The Loneliness of the Short Order Cook (2008), appears at the festival as part of the Polish delegation. For this short fictional film, the writer/director's attention to the details of
Los Angeles' urban landscape reflects the practices of such heralded documentary filmmakers on CalArts faculty as Thom Andersen and James Benning.
In the film, a young short order cook (Shin) living in East Los Angeles and working in a Japanese jazz bar faces deportation to Japan when his visa is denied. Subdued and restrained, the film offers an unsentimental portrait of living between time zones and cultures as Shin experiences a side of
Los Angeles invisible to his social circle of Japanese expatriates.
The nation's first art institute to offer BFAs and MFAs in both the visual and performing arts, CalArts is dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists, fostering innovation within the broadest context possible. Emphasis is placed on new and experimental work and students are admitted solely on the basis of artistic ability. To encourage experimentation, CalArts' six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater--are all housed under one roof in a five-story building with the equivalent of 11 acres of square footage in Valencia, California, 30 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles.