CSUN Showcase Throws Spotlight on Hollywood’s Future Filmmakers

The stories are as diverse as their filmmakers: An ex-gang member struggling to help his mother return home. A son fulfilling his father’s baseball dream. A father struggling to provide for his son. Two lonely people battling solitary confinement. An effort to negotiate peace in the middle of a war.

The public is invited to explore these cinematic stories and preview the talents of the next generation of filmmakers on. Wednesday, May 3, at California State University, Northridge’s 31st Senior Film Showcase (2021 redux) at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A scene from the student film "This Is Their Land," directed by Michael O'Leary.

A scene from the student film “This Is Their Land,” directed by Michael O’Leary.

The showcase, which concludes years of study for the university’s senior-level film students, is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater, located at 8949 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

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

“The work by the students makes us proud and underscores their professional and creative talents,” Thomas said. “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.”

Scene from the student film "Kites," directed by Liezel Bites.

Scene from the student film “Kites,” directed by Liezl Bitas.

The showcase’s host will be internationally acclaimed director Randal Kleiser, whose first film was “Grease” starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. In addition, Kleiser directed “The Blue Lagoon,” starring Brooke Shields; “Summer Lovers,” starring Peter Gallagher and Daryl Hannah; Disney’s “Flight of the Navigator” and “Grandville, USA,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Jason Leigh. His other films include Disney’s “White Fang,” starring Ethan Hawke, and “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid,” starring Rick Moranis and Lloyd Bridges. A retrospective of Kleiser’s work will be shown at the showcase.

Scene from •“Un Día Más, Un Día Menos,” directed by Audrey Saca.

Scene from • “Un Día Más, Un Día Menos,” directed by Audrey Saca.

The following student films will make their premiere at the showcase:

  • “El Halcón”, directed by Arlene Torres, is set in the bustling streets of Boyle Heights and follows the story of Fernando De La Cruz, an ex-gang member and aspiring tattoo artist as he tries to turn his life around and help his immigrant mother return to the United States.
  • “Ruby’s Dad,” directed by David Tschan, is the story of Stanley, who, when he learns the whereabouts of his late father’s favorite baseball player, tries to sneak into a upscale hotel with his daughter, Ruby, to get an autograph.
  • Scene from “Ruby’s Dad,” directed by David Tschan.

    Scene from “Ruby’s Dad,” directed by David Tschan.

    “Un Día Más, Un Día Menos,” directed by Audrey Saca, follows a father who must leave his son, Leo, with relatives while he looks for work. As the years go by with Leo exploited as a ranch hand, secrets are revealed.

  • “Kites,” directed by Liezl Bitas, is the story of a young Filipina inmates lonely time in solitary confinement takes a turn when she gets an impossible message from a Black man in the same situation half a world away.
  • In “This Is Their Land,” directed by Michael O’Leary, the leader of the Modoc is trapped between the U.S. Army and warring factions in his own tribe as he maneuvers tense peace negotiations to save his people.
On the set of “El Halcón”, directed by Arlene Torres.

On the set of “El Halcón”, directed by Arlene Torres.

Thomas said some of the films selected to premier in the showcase were completed during the pandemic.

“We wanted to make sure that, despite the pandemic, the students still had an opportunity to show their films on a big screen before an audience that includes industry leaders,” he said.

He noted that the filmmakers featured at the showcase are all Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) Fellows.

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

CSUN’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts, housing 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 craft. The department currently enrolls nearly 1,700 undergraduate students and 30 students in its graduate screenwriting program. Its 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. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety have regularly ranked CSUN among the top universities in the country for cinema and television arts education.

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