Student Directors Walk the Red Carpet

  Feature, News   •

The great filmmakers of today often show their very latest work at the Directors Guild of America Theatre in mid-town Manhattan.

On June 20, the great filmmakers of tomorrow may well have shown their very first works at the 26th Annual Bronx Community College Film & Video Festival. For two hours, 12 five-minute films by current students and recent graduates of the BCC Media and Digital Film Production program of the Department of Communications Arts and Sciences were screened for an audience of industry professionals, as well as BCC classmates and faculty, family and friends.

“I am looking forward to seeing these films,” said former Bronx Borough President and current Trustee of The City University of New York Fernando Ferrer in opening remarks. “And to the awards later on — not quite the Academy Awards, but better.”

There followed a full menu of moviemaking with something for every taste, from romantic comedy to family drama to broad farce to social criticism to the supernatural — even a documentary. For the student-directors, there was the thrill of seeing the ideas they first pitched in a BCC class months ago now presented in a professional movie theater fitted with the best in video and audio equipment.

Immediately following the screenings came the presentation of the awards — no easy choice for the judges, who this year were faced with more quality films than available plaques and statuettes.

First, a series of special awards and distinctions were handed out:

  • The Peter J. Rondinone Memorial Awards, presented to Antonio Rodriguez, Ifeoma Ezinwa, Christian Rodriguez and Kevin Herrera
  • The AVID Technology Editing Award, presented to Ingvar Denis
  • The Marie Nesbitt Promise Prize, presented to Ingvar Denis
  • The Sol Negrin Memorial Award, presented to Keith Burrus
  • The Nancy Littlefield Memorial Award, presented to Emmett Ferrer
  • The Milos Forman Memorial Award, presented to Johenfy Duran

The Milos Forman Memorial Award, named for the famed director who died in 2018, was new this year. It was handed to the winner by Annie Golden, a star of Forman’s screen adaptation of the musical Hair in 1979. “Milos would have been so proud of the production values and the stories you told tonight,” Ms. Golden told the filmmakers. Director and producer Michael Slovis added to those thoughts. “To all the students — remarkable job,” adding “One last homework assignment: If you haven’t seen Milos Forman’s films, watch them all!”
Then came the evening’s grand finale — the naming of the winners of the 2019 Eastman Kodak Student Filmmaker Awards. (The evening was hosted by the Eastman Kodak Company, along with AVID Technology and B&H.)

Coming in fourth — and winner of $600 in cash and $200 worth of Kodak motion picture film — was Joseline Calixto, director of Abused, a portrait of a mother and child enduring and surviving domestic abuse.

The third-place winner of the evening, who went home with $400 of Kodak film and a $1000 cash award, was Emmett Ferrer, director of My Brothers’ Girlfriend, an exploration of a young girl coming to accept her sexual orientation.

In second place was Lost One, director Josh Badillo’s portrait of the dehumanizing results of racial profiling. Mr. Badillo was awarded $600 in film and $1400 in cash.

And finally, Dr. Debra A. Gonsher, chair of BCC’s Communications Arts and Science department and Emmy award-winning documentarian, presented the first-place prize of $1000 worth of film and $1800 in cash to Johenfy Duran, who directed Check, a tale of a life-or-death chess match between a supernatural being and its unsuspecting human prey.

The greatest round of applause and a standing ovation was saved for the film program’s director, Professor Jeffrey Wisotsky, who began the festival 26 years ago, when the venue was a café off Times Square and the big screen was a bed sheet. “It’s the best night of the year,” said Prof. Wisotsky. “The students get networking opportunities, jobs, money — and most important, they see their work come to fruition.”

The reception that followed was made possible by Arthur Avenue Caterers — like the filmmakers honored that evening, it was straight out of the Bronx.

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