Public television station KCET selected three California State University, Northridge student films, all directed by women of color, to take part in its Fine Cut Film Festival.
The Fine Cut Festival of Films, in its 24th season, is an annual showcase and celebration of Southern California’s young filmmakers. Among this selection were three senior thesis films by students in CSUN’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts. In all, 30 short films are selected as finalists out of more than 350 submissions from 40 schools across Southern California.
The CSUN entries included, “Un Día Más Un Día Menos,” written and directed by Audrey Saca; “Shred,” directed by Giovanna Trujillo; and “Don’t Blink,” directed by Kathleen Ngo.
“Un Día Más Un Día Menos,” CSUN’s entry in the narrative category, tells the story of a young boy, Leo, who is left in the care of his uncle and aunt and grows up alongside his cousin Luis. The film delves into complicated family dynamics and retold the story of Saca’s grandfather.
“Everyone has a story and, in talking to people, I think it’s so important for us to get to know one another before making a first judgment,” said Saca. “You don’t know what a person has gone through in their life, especially me—learning this about my grandfather. I just want people to walk away being more mindful and open to getting to know others and their stories.”
The students who worked with Saca were producers Brittany Burkett, Ruben Fuentes Jr. and Stephanie Ledesma; first assistant director Jorge Perez; director of photography Christopher Powers; sound team Riho Kaneda, Brett Poldrugo and Tzu Ni Guo; editors Sara McClung and Brian Longlax; production designer Joey Hayes; art director Joey Koenig and composer Ethan Algazi.
“Shred” was one of the two CSUN films included in the documentary category. The film explores how community for queer Latinx youth can be built through their connection to roller-skating culture and the freedom of expression provided by the hobby.
“Skate culture is so recognizable. What I wanted to do with all the stills of the skates and the wheel close ups is linger on the stillness of the sport, and take a step back,” said Trujillo. “Yes, it’s a skate film, but it’s a skate film about people who have learned to overcome their own adversities through this hobby.”
“I’m gay, most of my friends have always been gay,” she continued. “I was asking myself, ‘How do I present this to people who are barely learning what non-binary or trans is? How do I make it so visually appealing that—despite whatever they hear on the news or whatever agendas they’re fed—the audience will see the people I’m showing on screen and the stories I’m producing the way that I view them?’”
The creative team for “Shred” included co-producer Shalisa Krualphan, director of photography Katherine Nino, sound Cole Ratliff, and editors Richie Rosales and Eli Roberts.
The CSUN documentary “Don’t Blink” follows a young Asian American influencer named Karen. Director Ngo highlighted the challenges experienced when balancing familial expectations and personal creative satisfaction–something to which she could relate.
“I want other Asian American students to see that you can do it, if you really want it,” Ngo said. “Karen even said, ‘It’s not going to be easy, and it never will be.’ Yeah, you’re going to maybe make your parents upset, but if it’s something you want to do, do it. I want young Asian American creatives to get the idea that your voice matters, you always have something to bring to the table and you deserve a seat at the table.”
Creatives on the team included director Kathleen Ngo, producer Dominic Overby, director of photography Tate Allan, sound Juan Munoz and editors Makenna Cordiano and Matvey Filyushkin.
The collection of short student films will be aired alongside other finalists on PBS SoCal in a series of six different hour-long episodes beginning at 10 p.m. from Friday, Sept. 22, through Friday, Oct. 27. “Un Día Más Un Día Menos” and “Shred” will both be airing on Oct. 6 in the episode titled, “Claim My Place”. The third film “Don’t Blink” will be aired on Oct. 20, in an episode titled “Creative Expression”.
CSUN’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 craft. The department currently enrolls nearly 1,700 undergraduates and 30 students in its graduate screenwriting program. Its alumni work in all aspects of entertainment media, from writing, producing and directing to operating cameras and having the final say in what project is made. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety regularly rank CSUN among the top universities in the country for cinema and television arts education.