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UNCSA School Of Filmmaking rocks, here and at Cannes

by Mark Burger

The summer movie season is upon us, with myriad studio blockbusters vying for bucks at the multiplex box-offices, but the School of Filmmaking at the UNC School of the Arts offers area audiences the opportunity to check out the Hollywood filmmakers of tomorrow, with its annual screenings of third-year and fourth-year student films.

The program opens Thursday, with all screenings taking place in the ACE Exhibition Complex, located on the UNCSA main campus (1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem).

The Third-Year Films, which will be screened Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Main Theatre and 8 p.m. in the Babcock Theatre, include: Birthday Psalm (directed by Zach Laws), Change Machine (directed by Raven Bradley), The Severe Psychosis of a Musicless Man (directed by Ian McClerin), The Bells of Frankenberg (directed by Zach Strum), Model Airplane (directed by Gerik Gooch), Don’t Panic (directed by Lindsay Thompson), The Watch (directed by Zach Coker), The Universe and You (directed by Quentin Norris), Needles (directed by Gerry Gibson), File: Anna (directed by Shannon Jones), Like Melancholy for Joy (directed by Edward Varnie) and Night Ritual (directed by Crystal Williams Brown).

The Fourth-Year Films, which will be screened Friday at 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the Main Theatre and 8 p.m. in the Babcock Theatre, include: American Dream (directed by Martin Aguilar), Bayou Blues (directed by Nathan Connelly), The Gravy Farmer’s Curse (directed by Sergio Fernandez), Irma and the Yeti (directed by Robert Crain), The Martyr (directed by Jesse Terrell), The Minus Touch (directed by Rob Sterling), The Nightmare Hour (directed by Priscilla Anany-Williams), Zomromcom: The Musical! (directed by Messiah Amaram) and MMA (directed by Jordan Laney).

This year’s selection of films runs the gamut, featuring comedies, thrillers, musicals, drams and even documentaries.

Each film has been produced by the student filmmakers enrolled at the UNCSA School of Filmmaking. The student films are not subject to rating by the MPAA and may contain adult situations and language. Parental discretion is advised. The titles and line-up are subject to change prior to screening. Tickets are $5. For tickets or more information, call 336.721.1945 or check out www.uncsa.edu/performances

Jeff Nichols, himself a graduate of the UNCSA School of Filmmaking, received the Grand Prix Award last week at the 50 th annual Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the Best Screenwriting Award from the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers at Critics’ Week.

Nichols, who graduated the School of Filmmaking in 2001, wrote and directed the psychological thriller Take Shelter, which stars Michael Shannon (Academy Award nominee for Revolutionary Road) as a man who becomes convinced that the end of the world is imminent. The film, which also stars Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon and Emmy Award winner Kathy Baker, was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics for release later in the fall Last month, Nichols returned to his alma mater for the 13 th annual RiverRun International Film Festival with Shannon, who received the festival’s Emerging Artist Award. During the special event “A Conversation with Michael Shannon,” Nichols, who previously worked with Shannon in Shotgun Stories (2007), which marked his feature debut as writer/producer/director, served as the host for an interview with the actor, and the two shared anecdotes about their work together.

For information about all the goings-on at UNCSA, visit the official website: www.uncsa.edu.

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