Visually captivating animated films by four Film/Animation/Video students and recent grads will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at The Museum of American Illustration. The show features the winning work submitted in the Society of Illustrators’ 2013 Student Scholarship Competition.
Troubleshooting, a black and white animated film by Eric Ko 13 FAV,took second place in the competition and earned the senior a $500 scholarship. Its success lies in its simplicity, he says. “I purposely limited myself by stripping the aesthetics down to the bare minimum,” Ko notes. “This allowed me to focus more on animating rather than the technical stuff that happens to come with creating more complicated visuals.”
I Am X, a cheery animation made in Adobe After Effects and Flash by Elise Fachon 12 FAV,took third place, earning the alum a $250 award.
“I think this piece is unique in its playfulness,” Fachon explains. “It has been my experience that sometimes art must become dark and heavy to have meaning to it. I wanted to make something that was meaningful but still lighthearted.”
Fool of People by José Rodriguez 12 FAV (still pictured above) and The Placeholder by Robert Farrar 14 FAV both earned honorable mentions.
The students’ films will be on view in The Museum of American Illustration in NYC from May 15 through June 5.
The Brown/RISD Poetry Slam Team continues to push the boundaries of spoken word performance one well-crafted rhyme at a time.
The team of talented wordsmiths – coached by Jessie Chen 15 FAV – took sixth place in the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). In early April, a total of 59 teams competed in the prestigious competition held at Barnard College in New York City.
Pictured above: Coach Jessie Chen 15 FAV and the team of five Brown students — Paul Tran, Hans Gao, Sydney Peak, Kelsey Kawana and Jesse Gumbiner – made it to the semifinals of the invitational.
“Before the competition, we practiced at least three times a week to rehearse our work and run through team building exercises,” notes Chen. “We were thrilled to have our hard work pay off.”
A powerful piece by Brown student Paul Tran earned him a “Best Poet” award, an accolade only given to three performers each year. “It was the first time the award was given to an Asian-American student,” adds Chen.
The team’s progressive writing also won the “Pushing the Art Forward” award, a merit reserved for groups that take risks in their craft. “All in all, it was such a beautiful journey,” says Chen. “We brought back home so many wonderful memories.”
As part of their sabbaticals, FAV Professor Peter O’Neill and Associate Professor of Anthropology Lindsay French traveled to Cambodia last year to collaborate on a documentary. Their trip yielded a 30-minute film on Krom Akphiwat Phum, an NGO that has been working to develop poor, rural villages in Cambodia’s northwest Battambang Province for the past 20 years. The two faculty members screened a rough cut of their film in the Tap Room on Wednesday, April 24, and were eager for audience feedback.
The essence of the documentary film – which O’Neill shot with French’s help and translation over two three-week periods last winter – is the inclusive, democratic methodology Krom uses to help local residents. The viewer meets the 12 Cambodians who work for the NGO and sees them interacting with villagers and leading meetings about how to organize their farming communities and better the lives of their people.
Although Krom is focused on boosting income from local rice production, the incredible side benefits of the organization include gender equality, literacy for women and empowerment of the villages’ poorest residents. It’s a compelling story and a fabulous film that O’Neill and French hope to complete this summer.
Thanks to his phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign, filmmaker Julian Marshall 12 FAV was able to turn Obey the Giant, his much lauded senior film about RISD alum and street artist Shepard Fairey 92 IL,into a festival-ready tour de force.
From the somber, black-and-white opening credits, it’s clear that this is no amateur picture. The reedited, 23-minute film, which was shot at RISD last winter, tells the story of Fairey’s Andres the Giant street art campaign when he was at RISD in the early ’90s and Providence’s infamous ex-mayor Buddy Cianci was up for reelection.
Marshall is now running his own film production company in New York and working on a script about gun control in America. For more on the new release, see this interview on Unbeige.
Diehard film fan and Professor of Literary Arts + Studies Mike Fink sent in this clear-eyed review of Promised Land, the new film by Gus Van Sant 75 FAV:
In my heart I nominate Hal Holbrook for an Oscar as a supporting actor at the Academy Awards coming up. My former student Gus Van Sant, who very often casts older stars as distinguished and honorable professors, chose Holbrook as the dissenter in Promised Land. He plays the role of a retired scientist who volunteers at a Pittsburgh high school and speaks out against a fracking proposal in a farm community suffering from the recession and tempted to sell out, just to make ends meet.
The other (to me) virtue of Van Sant as a director of alternative and independent cinema is that he looks at locales with an appreciation for quirky beauty – for landscapes not standard but dramatic and unique.
Critics – and audiences – have found fault with this movie on several counts. First of all, the controversy created by the funding source, which is tied to OPEC, suggests that interests from abroad are casting doubt on fracking for selfish reasons. American energy independence could threaten foreign powers.
The other accusation is that both Van Sant and his star and scriptwriter, Matt Damon, are condescending toward the agricultural community. I felt the opposite: that they confer dignity and intelligence upon most, but not all, of the people most concerned about fracking. I think both Van Sant and Damon have produced a movie with thoughtful dialogue, elegant scenery (I love the miniature horses and the newborn kids) and considerable character development. They warn us, as viewers, to beware the Trojan Horses of big business interests and to respect the hesitant voices of tradition and education.
Promised Land is a good title, as well. If for no other reason than to watch and listen to Hal Holbrook, it is worthwhile for anybody who cares about the environment to catch this flick before it leaves town altogether. —Mike Fink
Andrew Migliori 13 FAV will soon be traveling north to shoot his fantastically funny senior project, Donner Party, the Musical. The comedic film is inspired by the infamous group of American pioneers who resorted to cannibalism after becoming snowbound in Sierra Nevada.
“At its heart, the film is a love story. As the hardships mount, the young lovers grow closer until they hunger for each other,” Migliori excitedly explains.
Next week, the senior and a small crew will make the trek to snowy Moultonborough, a small town in picturesque New Hampshire, to shoot the musical using a 16mm camera. Local politicians gave Migliori permission to film at a local academy.
“It’s been no small feat. I’ve been very grateful for the help,” Migliori explains. “Everyone’s been pulling out the stops for me.”
The happy cast (above) poses for a picture. L–R: Ed Lowe, Director Andrew Migliori, Kendra White, Vincent Tomasino, Lizzie Stanton and George Alford will be traveling to New Hampshire next week.
The creative crew has been preparing feverishly for the trip. “We need to get some final costumes and record the soundtrack so actors can lip sync when on set. We’re also constructing a covered wagon,” Migliori explains.
Other RISD students who have devoted time to the project include cinematographer Paul Bertolino 13 FAV, Kate Harkness 13 FAV, Mohammed AlAwadi 13 FAV, Jess Paek 13 FAV, Gabriela Bello 13 FAV and alum Alyssa Hathaway 12 FAV.
Craving updates from the set? You can follow the director’s Twitter feed @donnerpartyrisd.
In case you’ve been stuck under a rock today, this morning actress Emma Stone joined Seth MacFarlane 95 FAV, host of the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony on February 24, in announcing the nominees for this year’s Oscars.
We’re excited and delighted that Beasts of the Southern Wild, the breathtaking independent film that four alumni helped bring to the big screen, has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Director (Benh Zeitlin’s sister Eliza Zeitlin 07 SC went to RISD, which is how she and other alumni got involved). And big little Quvenzhané Wallis (above), who was 6 when the film was shot, has been nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role! (Read more about our alums’ involvement in the latest issue of RISD XYZ, starting on page 20.)
We’re also thrilled for animator Martha Grant 10 FAV, who devoted a big chunk of the last couple of years to working on ParaNorman and now gets the pleasure of seeing it nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.
Talented cinematographer Robert Richardson 79 FAV, who earned his third Oscar last year for Hugo, is in the running for another this year – for his work on Django Unchained, the fourth film he’s made with Quentin Tarantino.
Interviewed on Good Morning America this morning, Seth noted that the wide range of nominees this year – which includes the youngest and oldest actresses ever to be nominated for Best Actress – is refreshing: “This is great. It’s nice to have an Oscars where you don’t know who’s going to win. It’s actually a contest, so it’s exciting.”
Seth – who’s a crooner and musician himself, among many other talents – also says he was surprised to learn he’s been nominated for Best Original Song – for writing the lyrics of a song for Ted, his first feature film.
The New York Times coverage of today’s Academy Award announcement noted that “MacFarlane worked hard to squelch skepticism about his selection as host and give a hint of what will come on Oscar night, cracking a series of one-liners that mocked the self-seriousness of the Oscars and the job of moviemaking.”
If you know of any other RISD alums who are up for Oscars this year, please let us know!
Breakfast with Curtis, a humorous film directed by FAV faculty member Laura Colella, caught the attention of the folks who curate the Film Independent Spirit Awards. The quirky feature is nominated for the John Cassevetes Award, an accolade reserved for sensational cinema produced on a shoe-string budget.
Colella weaves a heartwarming tale. The film tells the story of a group of bohemian housemates and an “unlikely new collaboration that dissolves bad blood between the residents,” according to the film’s website.
Other RISD alums had a hand in the film’s success. Aaron Jungels 87 FAV, Michael Fails 11 FAV, Jake Mahaffy 96 FAV and Rachel Vianna 11 FAV were members of the cast and crew. Former faculty member Bob Jungels acted in the project.
The award ceremony will be aired on IFC on Sunday, February 23, at 10 pm. Tune in to root for Breakfast with Curtis!
The film is not to be missed. It tells the story of a young Native American woman named Monique Verdin who attempts to reunite with her family – but upon returning home to Southeast Louisiana, she finds that a “cycle of manmade environmental crises” is literally causing the land to sink.
“Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil leak are just the latest rounds in this century-old cycle that is forcing Monique’s clan to adapt in new ways,” write the directors.
See this WGBH Boston web video to watch the film in its entirety.