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CSUN’s Spotlight Shines on Next Generation of Filmmakers

April 23, 2019

Reposted from CSUN TODAY

The stories are a reflection of the issues of our time — from sexual assault and immigration to racial tensions — yet they offer a unique perspective through the eyes of a new generation of filmmakers.

Officials at California State University, Northridge invite the public to join them as they premier the works of five young filmmakers at the university’s annual Senior Film Showcase on Wednesday, May 1, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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. The evening’s host will be respected television director John Behring.

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 film program.

“These are talented people who have voices and stories that need to be heard,” Thomas said. “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.

“Though it’s always bittersweet to see our students graduate — you become attached during the time they study in your classes — I am looking forward to the years to come,” Thomas continued, “when I will sit in a movie theater and proudly see the names of these young filmmakers on the screen.”

All five filmmakers have the distinction of being Hollywood Foreign Press Association Fellows.

The following films will be featured in the showcase:

  • “Torn,” directed by Lara Aslanian, is the story of Anna, who is sexually assaulted the night of her sister’s engagement party. After the assault, she finds her assailant’s cuff links. Overcome with guilt and shame, she struggles to come forward and accuse a man she once thought she could trust.
  • “Courage,” directed by Eric Wann, is a neo-noir Western drama that explores the themes of generational dysfunction, choice and the ability to change one’s behavior. Set in the Southwest, “Courage” is the story of Gayle, a man on the run from the law who, when something is stolen from him, must decide whether to try to get it back or keep going before he’s caught by the authorities.
  • “Into Daylight,” directed by Stephanie Botelho, is the story of Mark and his deaf girlfriend, Emma. After what Mark believes is a perfect night, their relationship goes awry and both have to deal with the consequences.
  • “El Viaje,” directed by Andrew Borene, tells the story of Paul, who lives in a small town on the Mexican-American border. Paul, good friends with the town’s bigoted sheriff, is faced with a moral dilemma when an immigrant shows up at his back door.
  • “Kuanza,” directed by Ariel Ford, is set in the late 1850s and chronicles the love story of Anaya Jabari, a Kenyan slave, and Robert Duncan, her owner’s son. When Anaya gives birth to their child, pandemonium erupts on the plantation, and the pair are forced to make hard choices.

The showcase’s host, John Behring, is by far one of the most sought after directors of American television drama series.He has directed numerous episodic television dramas including “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Grimm,” “Legends,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “CSI: NY,” “The 100,” “One Tree Hill,” “The Client List,” “V,” “Charmed,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Life,” “Crash,” “Surface,” “Dark Blue,” “Hellcats,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Trauma.” He also directed 11 episodes of the series “NUMB3RS,” for which he also served as producer for three seasons from 2006–2008.More recently Behring has helmed such shows as “Gotham,” “Blue Bloods,” “Instinct,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Frequency” and “Shades of Blue,” starring Jennifer Lopez.

Behring began his career shooting local and national television commercials before moving to Los Angeles. He then began shooting main titles and opening sequences for television shows in the early 1990s.Behring’s directorial debut was the CBS Schoolbreak Special “My Indian Summer” in 1995. His first episodic drama as a director was the series “The Lazarus Man,” starring Robert Urich, in 1996.

Behring has a strong connection to CSUN as his wife Shari Tarver-Behring is the interim dean of the Michael D. Eisner College of Education. There will be an on screen retrospective of his work that evening.

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 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.