Spotlight Shines on CSUN Film Students at Senior Showcase

California State University, Northridge officials will shine the spotlight on Hollywood’s next generation of movie makers on Wednesday, May 7, at the university’s 24th annual “Senior Film Showcase” at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The showcase, which culminates years of study for the university’s senior-level film students, is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Screenings of the student films will take place in the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre of the television academy, located at 5220 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.

The evening’s host will be film director/writer/producer Randal Kleiser, who will be given the university’s Cinematheque Award. An on-screen retrospective of Kleiser’s work will also take place that night.

Cinema and television arts professor Nate Thomas, head of CSUN’s film option, said the films in the showcase represent the best of CSUN’s program.

“I know I say this every year, but each year the films just get better and better,” said Thomas. “The work by the students makes us proud and underscores their professional and creative talents. Our students come from mostly working-class backgrounds and have diverse stories to tell. As their films demonstrate, they have the skills to tell those stories effectively. As members of the entertainment industry, they will add new voices and perspectives to those who already entertain and sometimes provoke us with their filmmaking.

“What makes this year’s showcase particularly interesting is the number of films we have by women—four of the five,” Thomas said. “CSUN could be an example for Hollywood.”

The following five films are featured in the showcase:

  • “Diana Leigh,” directed by Stephanie Hoston, is the story of a young black woman in the 1960s fighting for her dream to sing amidst the problems of her dark past and a racist world resistant to change.
  • “If Ever There’s a Tomorrow,” directed by Samantha Holt, is the story of Ben, who returns home from war in time to keep his childhood promise to walk his sister down the aisle on her wedding day. However, his war experiences have changed him, and the promise he made now seems impossible to keep.
  •  “High Stakes,” directed by Sydney Waco, is the story of Cal Morris, a movie theater owner who, in the midst of the Hollywood community witch hunts of the 1950s, is asked by his brother, a blacklisted filmmaker, to screen his latest film. Cal struggles with the decision to show his brother’s film, which could mean compromising the safe life he has worked hard to build.
  •  “Tips,” directed by Chelsea Morgan, tells what happens when Loreli Barnes, a washroom attendant at the La Voilette Lounge, catches a patron stealing her tips. Rather than handing her over to the police, Loreli presents the thief with a life-changing offer.
  • “A.S.T.A.R.,” directed by Zac Stoltz, is about Matthew Midas, a successful micro-chip developer, who arrives in Los Angeles to unveil the latest upgrade for the Star navigation system. He finds out his car is host to a faulty Star system, Mega Star, that realizes Matthew is planning to upgrade her. Matthew engages in an escalating struggle with Mega Star, as it attempts to first make Matthew miss his meeting, and then attempts to destroy him entirely. It’s a fresh and funny case of man versus machine – the creator and the creation battle for their lives, and fight to find out which one is stronger.”

Hosting the evening will be Kleiser, who gained international attention with the release of his first directed film, “Grease,” starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. His other feature films include “The Blue Lagoon” with Brooke Shields; “Summer Lovers,” starring Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher; “Grandview U.S.A.,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis; “Flight of the Navigator;” “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” and “White Fang.” As a writer/producer, Kleiser was responsible for the surfing classic, “North Show.” He also directed the thriller “Shadow of Doubt” with Melanie Griffith and Tom Berenger, as well as the critically acclaimed comedy “Getting It Right,” starring Lynn Redgrave and Sir John Gielgud. His work also included several television films, including the Emmy Award-winning “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” with John Travolta.

Kleiser will be given CSUN’s Cinematheque Award for his contributions to the entertainment industry. A Cinematheque Award also will be presented to noted cinematographer Bill Bennett, A.S.C. For nine years, Bennett has been the American Society of Cinematographers mentor for the film program’s prestigious Arri 35mm Project and Arri Alexa Project.

For more information about the showcase, call CSUN’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts at (818) 677-3192.

Cal State Northridge’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts, housed in the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, has an international reputation for producing dedicated and talented entertainment industry professionals who recognize the value of hard work as they learn and continue to perfect their crafts. The department’s alumni work in all aspects of entertainment media, from writing, producing and directing to manning cameras and having the final say in what project is made.

Learn more about CSUN’s film option…