Film is thriving throughout SUNY colleges, especially at Stony Brook Southampton, where graduate students Ethan Scarduzio and Jordan Bianchi are candidates in an important upcoming film festival.
The seventh annual SUNYWide Film Festival (SWFF) will be taking place on April 8 and 9 at SUNY Oswego. This year, Stony Brook will be co-sponsoring the festival for the first time and director of the Master of Fine Arts program, Christine Vachon, will be giving the keynote address.
The grand prize of the festival is a $7,000 Canon EOS C100 Mark II kit with a 18-135mm lens.
Magdalene Brandeis, the associate director of the MFA program, helped acquire the grand prize.
“Canon has moved into their new headquarters in Huntington and we’ve been working with them since 2011,” Brandeis said. “They’ve helped us jump-start the production element of our MFA program, loaning us 5Ds, 7Ds, C100s and C300s.”
Brandeis went on to say how herself and the department thought it would be the perfect next step in their relationship to ask the company to sponsor the SUNYWide prize, and they were delighted to accept.
Joshua Davis, a visiting assistant professor at SUNY Oswego and co-director of SWFF, described the festival as a time to celebrate student filmmaking from all over the Empire State.
“It’s about ‘community,’ the idea that bonds, friendships and networks can be made, school to school, derived out of people’s love of cinema,” Davis said.
The first SUNYWide Film Festival was in 2009, hosted and founded by SUNY Fredonia.
According to its website, the SUNYWide Film Festival has 190 films submitted from 23 campuses. Selections for the festival will be made on March 15. Selected films and videos have gone on to receive awards at other regional and national film festivals.
Ethan Scarduzio was the winner of the Film Festival last year, and is now at Stony Brook Southampton in the MFA program.
Scarduzio is a graduate from SUNY Binghamton who received a degree in film production and a minor in theatre performance.
He won the festival with a film called “Fallout.” Scarduzio described it as “a huge collaboration” with the Binghamton Film Initiative.
“BFI is a student filmmaking collective run independently from Binghamton University,” Scarduzio said. “I credit BFI and its members with the success of our film, and without them all, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to direct the films I did.”
This year, Scarduzio is a candidate on a film produced by BFI once again called “Cul de Sac.”
“It’s a story about standing up for yourself and fighting for equality, and features some fantastic performances from local Binghamton children,” Scarudzio said.
A statement on the SWFF website reads, “We are committed to enriching our academic and local communities with entertaining, thought-provoking and challenging film and video work.”
Scarduzio added that it should be noted that the film festival experience is such an integral part of what it means to be a filmmaker in this day and age.
“Going to student film festivals allows you to acclimate to that experience, and prepare for other possible film festivals that you may be attending in the future,” Scarduzio said.
Jordan Bianchi is the second candidate from the graduate MFA program. He submitted films to the festival both this year and last.
In a statement from the MFA department where he was asked if he was a filmmaker, Bianchi replied, “SUNYWide and Stony Brook offered me validation, camaraderie, and most importantly, film citizenship within a community of filmmakers. I could see my peers and I were at [a] point in our studies where we’re asking similar questions, had begun to see things differently, and had an immense amount of passion for the magic of the screen.”
He then went on to answer question, “Yes, I am a filmmaker.”
Bianchi received his Bachelors of Arts from SUNY Oswego in Cinema and Screen Studies.
The MFA in Film is a three-year program in screenwriting, directing and producing, with production periods culminating in a feature screenplay, an MFA thesis film or a feature producer’s package.
The program focuses solely on being hands-on, in-depth and project driven.