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The Cooper Union Alumni Film Festival

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The Cooper Union Alumni Association invites you to celebrate talented alumni filmmakers and films about alumni at the inaugural
Cooper Union Alumni Film Festival over four weekends from Friday, January 28, 2011 to Saturday, February 26, 2011 (excluding February 18 & 19) in the Rose Auditorium at 41 Cooper Square. Films will be screened on Fridays from 7-9pm and Saturdays from 4-6pm.

These films shown over eight days showcase works written, produced, directed, created by or about Cooper Union alumni. The festival will include documentaries, shorts, animation, experimental, fantasy and narrative feature films. Opening and Closing nights will include receptions following the screenings.

We look forward to seeing you at the festival!

Event Co-Chairs: Carmi Bee AR’67 | Lea Cetera A’05 | Neal Slavin A’63
The Alumni Film Festival Committee: Kathryn McGraw Berry AR’80 | Rocco Cetera CE’99 | Janet Gardner A’65 | Steven Hillyer AR’90, Director, The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archive | Steven Lam, Associate Dean, School of Art | Susan Moyle Lynch, Director, Alumni Relations | Madeline C. Kilroe, Manager, Alumni Outreach & Events

Individual Tickets: $10 Alumni/Guest/General Public | $5 Seniors (65 yrs +), and children under 12 (Rating Restrictions Apply)
Film Festival Pass (8 Days, 9 Programs, 24 Films) ($90 Value): $72
Alumni/Guest/General Public | $36 Seniors (65 yrs +), and children under 12 (Rating Restrictions Apply)

All Films are General Admission and doors open one hour prior to screening time. The theater has a limited capacity; tickets will not be sold at the door.

About the Film Festival: Madeline Kilroe, Manager Alumni Outreach and Events
Registration: Xavier Pires



Still from After Ghostcatching, stereoscopic digital animation
2010 OpenEnded Group and Bill T. Jones

  Directed by: OpenEnded Group with Bill T. Jones
Visuals and sound by: OpenEnded Group (Marc Downie, Shelley Eshkar A'93, Paul Kaiser)
Movement and voice by: Bill T. Jones

After Ghostcatching is a reimagining of the artwork Ghostcatching ten years after its premiere at The Cooper Union. Viewers witness the "ghost" of Bill T. Jones meditating on disembodiment in a digital afterlife, between yearning for a singular body and the shedding off of body through digital mutation.

Shelley Eshkar has worked as a digital artist since the mid-nineties. With Marc Downie and Paul Kaiser in the OpenEnded Group, he collaborates on works for stage, screen, gallery, page and public space. openendedgroup.com


FOCUS 2001 | 106 min | TRAILER

Still of William H. Macy in Focus

 Directed by: Neal Slavin A'63
Written by: Kendrew Lascelles, based on the novel Focus by Arthur Miller
Producers: Michael R. Bloomberg, Robert Miller, Neal Slavin
Director of Photography: Juan Ruiz Anchia
Editor: Tariq Anwar
Cast: William H. Macy, Laura Dern, David Paymer, Meatloaf

Set in New York during the height of World War II, Focus recounts how the mistaken identities of a man (William H. Macy) and his wife (Laura Dern) unravel an American community. Slowly ostracized at home and work, they learn the value of self and solidarity as they struggle to maintain dignity and find happiness.

Neal Slavin is a photographer and filmmaker who has published three books of his photography: Portugal, When Two or More Are Gathered Together and Britons. He is developing two new feature films and one new photography project called The Prayer Project. nealslavin.com



The Event 2003 | 112 min | TRAILER

Still of Olympia Dukakis and Don McKellar in Tompkins Square Park
Copyright ThinkFilm

  Directed by: Thom Fitzgerald A'90
Written by: Tim Marback, Steven Hillyer A'90, Thom Fitzgerald
Producers: Bryan Hofbauer, Thom Fitzgerald; Co-Producers: Steven Hillyer, Tim Marback
Director of Photography: Thomas M. Harting
Editor: Christopher Cooper
Cast: Brent Carver, Olympia Dukakis, Jane Leeves, Don McKellar, Sarah Polley, Parker Posey

The Event centers on a series of unexplained deaths among New York City’s gay community. As Nick, a district attorney, investigates the most recent case – a suspicious suicide – her interviews with the friends and family of Matt Shapiro trigger intricately interwoven flashbacks that intimately reveal his life and death.

Since his 1997 feature debut, The Hanging Garden, Thom Fitzgerald has won over two dozen international awards. He has been cited as “one of the top ten of the next generation” by the Hollywood Reporter. His films include Beefcake, 3 Needles and the upcoming Cloud Burst.

Steven Hillyer and creative partner Tim Marback have developed projects via their NYC based company, Arkanjel Productions, since 1996. Hillyer's forthcoming feature, High as the Sky, is currently under fiscal sponsorship from NYFA.



Instantaneous Banality 2009 | 15 min

Still from Instantaneous Banality
  Directed, Written, Produced, Edited and Photography Directed by: Haisi Hu A'99
Cast: Aharon Levy, Robin Randisi, Jocob Burckhardt, Nina Irani, Benjamin Fries, Agnieszka Tworek, Victor Wynnytsky, Haisi Hu, Aimee Lutkin, Brooks Qirsch

Ten Polaroids, ten stories, ten extraordinary moments in mundane circumstances, when neither images nor words can fully express the complexity of the situation.

Haisi Hu works with narrative videos using animated puppets, toys and mannequins. She makes armatures for her characters and elaborate sets. In her videos, individuals search for fruition in their lives. Hu was born in China and immigrated to New York City in 1992. She works to conserve the beauty of the lands and arts that have inspired her. haisihu.com


War Don Don 2010 | 85 min | TRAILER

Still from War Don Don
  Directed by: Rebecca Richman Cohen
Producers: Francisco Bello A'02, Rebecca Richman Cohen
Directors of Photography: Nadia Hallgren, William Charles Moss
Editor: Francisco Bello

Prosecutors say Issa Sesay is a war criminal. His defenders say he protected civilians and played a crucial role in bringing peace to Sierra Leone. War Don Don puts international justice on trial — finding that in some cases the past is not just painful, it is also opaque.

Academy Award Nominee Francisco Bello produced and edited War Don Don, which won the 2010 SXSW Film Festival Special Jury Prize, and for which he was awarded the first Karen Schmeer Award for Excellence in Documentary Editing. In 2007, Bello launched Ropa Vieja Films LLC with Salim Baba, which has screened in over 75 festivals worldwide. His directorial debut, The Spirit of Salsa, was commissioned by HBO Documentary Films and premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival
. rv-films.com

The Film of Her 1996 | 12 min

Examining a paper print
Hypnotic Pictures
  Directed, Written and Edited by : Bill Morrison A'89
Directed by: Bill Morrison
Written by: Bill Morrison
Producer: Bill Morrison and Fabrica
Editor: Bill Morrison
Cast: Narrator: Guy DeLancey (voiceover) Clerk / Curator; Bill Morrison (voiceover)

"The Film of Her" tells the story of a clerk who rediscovers an ancient film collection in the vaults of the Library of Congress. The memory of an ancient piece of pornographic footage serves as muse, as he struggles to save the collection from incineration, and himself, from obscurity.

New York-based filmmaker Bill Morrison attended Reed College prior to studying at The Cooper Union and is the founder of Hypnotic Pictures. He is best known for his experimental collage film from 2002: Decasia. His films have been screened worldwide, including at the Sundance Film Festival and the Tate Modern in London, and eight of his works were acquired by the MoMA. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Alpert Award.



Snow White featuring Betty Boop 1933 | 7 min

Still from Snow White featuring Betty Boop
Directed by: Dave Fleischer
Story: Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm
Producer: Max Fleischer A'1900
Animation by: Roland Crandall
Voices by: Mae Questel and Cab Calloway (vocal chorus)

In this version of the classic fairy tale, a magic mirror proclaims Betty Boop as “the fairest in the land,” much to the chagrin of the vain Queen. Cited by critics as having some of the most imaginative animation and background drawings from the Fleischer Studios artists, Snow White featuring Betty Boop was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Max Fleischer was a pioneer of animation, serving as head of Fleischer Studios and bringing such characters as Betty Boop, Koko the Clown, Popeye and Superman to the silver screen. He received commercial art training at The Cooper Union and went on to invent numerous motion picture production devices, including the Rotoscope, which simplified the animation of movement by tracing frames of live action film. fleischerstudios.com


Vibrant Futures: Part One 2010 | 106 min | TRAILER

Poster for Vibrant Futures: Part One
Lea Cetera

  Directed and Produced by: Robin Schavoir and Lea Cetera A'05
Written and Edited by: Robin Schavoir
Directors of Photography: Robin Schavoir and Lea Cetera
Cast: Lea Cetera, Sam Hawkins, Matt Huffman, Angela Chambers, Robin Schavoir,  Erica Quitzow, Trenton Duerksen A'02, Johannes VanDerBeek A'04, Alana Fitzgerald A'09, Janeva Zentz A'07, Amber Marsh A'04, Sterling Hollowhorn, Pete Woodruff Jr., Ryan Garrett A'06, Oscar Cornejo A'05, Mitsu Hadeishi, Lori McCray

Set in the timberlands of the Pacific Northwest, Vibrant Futures is a fantasia centered on a group of environmental activist tree-sitters and a fraternity of jolly Bigfeet who achieve enlightenment through a mixture of shrooms, potions and comedic misadventure at a festival celebrating the Harvest Moon.

Born 1983 in Brooklyn, NY, Lea Cetera graduated from The Cooper Union's School of Art in 2005 and is currently a 2012 MFA candidate at Columbia University. She co-founded and co-directed the experimental performance group IMAGINATIONEXPLOSION. She is a performance artist, artist and filmmaker currently living and working in New York City.

Born 1982 in Brussels, Belgium, Robin Schavoir attended The Cooper Union's School of Art and the Longy School of Music in Boston. Schavoir wrote the screenplay for Vibrant Futures in 2006, along with a number of shorter screenplays currently in development. He is an artist, writer and filmmaker currently living and working in New York City. vibrantfuturesmovie.com


Science Friction 1959 | 10 min

Still From Science Friction
The Estate of Stan VanDerBeek


Directed, Written and Edited by: Stan VanDerBeek A'56

Science Friction is "a social satire aimed at the rockets, scientists and competitive mania of our time.”

Stan VanDerBeek traversed nearly every creative media of the twentieth century. As a self-described “technological fruitpicker,” the artist readily adopted disparate artistic forms, from moving images to mainframe computers, to forge a vision of art, technology, and the human condition.

Breath Death 1964 | 15 min

Still From Breath Death
The Estate of Stan VanDerBeek

  Directed and Written by: Stan VanDerBeek A'56

A surrealistic fantasy based on the 15th century woodcuts of the dance of the dead, Breath Death is a film experiment dealing with the photoreality and the surrealism of life. It is a collage-animation of cut-up photos and newsreel film and that have been reassembled, producing an image that is a mixture of unexplainable fact (why is Harpo Marx playing a harp in the middle of a battlefield?) with the inexplicable act (why is there a battlefield?). It is a black comedy, a fantasy that mocks death… a parabolic parable.

Poemfield No. 2 1966 | 6 min

  Directed by: Stan VanDerBeek A'56
Graphics by: Ken Knowlton

The Poemfield series explores variations of poems, computer graphics and, in some cases, combine live action images and animation collage. All the films are geometric and fast moving and in color. There are eight films in the computer animated art series. As samples of the art of the future, all the films explore variations of abstract geometric forms and words. These works could be compared to the illuminated manuscripts of an earlier age. Now, typography and design can be created at speeds of 100,000 decisions per second, set in motion a step away from "mental movies." The series of Poemfield No. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 were all colorized by Brown and Olvey.


Precious Cargo 2001 | 57 min | TRAILER


Tran La is photographed before being sent to Seattle where he was adopted by the Cornwall family
Courtesy of Judy and Jack Cornwall
  Directed and Written by: Janet Gardner A'65
by Janet Gardner and Pham Quoc Thai in association with ITVS
Directors of Photography: Kevin Cloutier and Len McClure
Editor: Nicole Domenici

Precious Cargo follows the bittersweet journey of a group of Vietnamese youth adopted by American families at the end of the Vietnam War, who travel back to their homeland in search of their personal histories. Winner of six industry awards, the film tells the story of Operation Babylift, which brought 2,700 children to the US, and introduces pioneering adoptive parents who began a movement that grew to redefine the American family by embracing these biracial, sometimes disabled, children as their own.

Janet Gardner is a veteran of NBC News, a distinguished print journalist and founder of The Gardner Documentary Group. She has produced and directed five documentaries on Indochina. Her film Mechanic to Millionaire: The Peter Cooper Story was recently broadcast by PBS. gardnerdocgroup.com




A History of Mutual Respect 2010 | 24 min | TRAILER

Still from A History of Mutual Respect
Courtesy of A Mutual Respect

  Directed, Written and Edited by: Gabriel Abrantes A'06 and Daniel Schmidt
Produced by: Gabriel Abrantes, Natxo Checa, ZDB
Associate Production by: Periferia Filmes
Associate Producer: João Trabulo
Director of Photography: Natxo Checa
Cast: Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt, Joana Nascimento, Alcina Abrantes, Edivaldo, Carlos Rigoberto Esquivel

A History of Mutual Respect follows a philosophical and existential journey into the jungle in search of utopian sexual purity.

After graduating from The Cooper Union, Gabriel Abrantes studied at l’Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 2005-06 and at le Fresnoy-Studio National des Arts Contemporains in Tourcoing, France in 2007. Since 2002, has had solo exhibitions in Portugal and the Netherlands.

In 2010, Abrantes’s work was exhibited in Paris at Palais de Tokyo,
Fondation Ricard and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. He also collaborated and designed the sets for Teatro Praga at Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisboa, Portugal. A solo retrospective of his film works was held at Centro Cultural Vila Flor, Guimarães. He has been honored with the New Talent Fnac Award at Indie Lisboa’09, the 2009 EDP and the Best Short Award at IndieLisboa'10, Portugal for A History of Mutual Respect. Currently living and working in Lisbon, he is preparing his first feature film, about Chinese immigration in Angola, and a short to be filmed in Port au Prince, Haiti, in November 2010.

A Mutual Respect is a film production company established in 2010 in Lisbon by Gabriel Abrantes, Natxo Checa and ZDB. Its main ambition is to find alternative and flexible means to produce innovative and experimental works. In 2010, it produced A History of Mutual Respect in Brazilia, Brazil.


Dare Double 2010 | 28 min | TRAILER

Theodore Bouloukos in Dare Double
The Automatic Moving Co.

  Directed and Written by: James N. Kienitz Wilkins A'07, Eugene Wasserman A'06, Dan Fridman
Producers: Camila de Onís, Dan Fridman, James N. Kienitz Wilkins
Director of Photography: Dan Fridman
Editor: William Lehman
Cast: Theodore Bouloukos, Eamon Monaghan, Ryan Andrews A'09, Greg Steinbruner, Stephanie Ann Whited

Dare Double is the first episode of an experimental situational comedy series about the recruitment of an unwitting young man into a new kind of nuclear family: a secret society dedicated to stimulating sameness.

James N. Kienitz Wilkins and Eugene Wasserman produce and collaborate as The Automatic Moving Co., along with Dare Double co-director Dan Fridman, Mike Crane A'05 and other filmmakers. automaticmoving.com | wellmadephrase.com


Meat Weed America 2007 | 85 min | TRAILER

Cover of DVD distributed by Troma Entertainment
Aiden Dillard
  Directed, Written, Produced and Edited by: Aiden Dillard A'03
Director of Photography: Nelson Figallo AR'03
Cast: Debbie Rochon, Peter Stickles, Lloyd Kaufman, Carey Sveen, Bella Vendetta, Dennis Palozzolo A'04

All gave some, and some gave… meat weed! When the peaceful Meatweed family is attacked by the Yankee terrorist Bin Smokin’ (Peter Stickles), they turn their Southern white trash American angst towards the East. Innocent cutie pie Jessie Bell flees home and war and goes to New York City to be discovered, but is corrupted by the beautiful and mysterious Hempress (Debbie Rochon). Meanwhile back on the ranch, Lord Meatweed recruits Sister Mary Juana and her horny nuns to seduce the Jihottie Terrorists, who birth lovable Bullpucky Junior. Bin Smokin’ then holds Jessie Bell hostage with the aid of the Art Dealer (Lloyd Kaufman). Finally, a war to end all wars breaks out with shootouts, blood orgies and real flesh hook suspensions!

Aiden Dillard grew up in North Carolina and has been committed to independent filmmaking for half of his life. He makes movies in Miami, which are now "less trashy and more tropical." aidendillard.com



Postcards from Central Asia: NOMADIC PRACTICE 2009 | 15 min | TRAILER

Astana, Kazakhstan
Alexandra Lerman

  Directed by: Alexandra Lerman A'04
Written by: Alexandra Lerman and Kyong Park
Producer: Michael Cervieri
Director of Photography and Editor: Alexandra Lerman
Cast: Kyong Park

Postcards from Central Asia is a travelogue through the post-Soviet cities of Central Asia: Tashkent, Bukhara, Almaty and Astana. Kyong Park discusses his nomadic practice as he looks at the rich fabric for the study of the ideology of Socialist modernism, as expressed through architecture. Today, this philosophy has been interrupted and reinterpreted to serve the needs of the newly independent nation states.

Alexandra Lerman is a New York City-based artist whose work is rooted in documentary practice. She graduated from The Cooper Union in 2004 and is an MFA candidate at Columbia University. Lerman’s work has been exhibited at the New Museum, Artists Space, Anthology Film Archives, Hermitage Museum and MUSAC. alexandralerman.com

JOHN HEJDUK: Builder of Worlds 1992 | 30 min

John Hejduk
© Michael Blackwood Productions
  Directed and Produced by: Michael Blackwood
Written by: David Shapiro
Director of Photography: Mead Hunt
Cast: John Hejduk AR'50, David Shapiro

A poet among architects and an innovator among educators, John Hejduk converses in Builder of Worlds with poet David Shapiro at The Cooper Union about the mystery and spirit of architecture. The film also shows Hejduk's sketches and structures.

Independent documentary filmmaker Michael Blackwood has produced and directed more than 100 films, aiming to create a permanent record of some of the leading figures in the contemporary cultural landscape. His main interests are the areas of architecture, art, music and dance. michaelblackwoodproductions.com

MAX ERNST HANGING 2010 | 59 min

'Max Ernst and Dominique de Menil during shoot for Max Ernst Hanging.
John Lee Simons

  Directed by: Francois de Menil AR'87 and John de Menil
Produced by the Menil Archive in Houston, Texas
Director of Photography: Francois de Menil
Editors: John de Menil and Jack McDonald
Cast: Dominique de Menil, Max Ernst, Dorathea Tanning, Rosamund Bernier, Rosalind Krauss, The Rice Museum Staff, Le Tout Houston

Collector and Curator Dominique de Menil hangs the 1973 exhibition Inside The Sight in conversation with Max Ernst, the 20th century Surrealist artist.

Prior to studying architecture at The Cooper Union, Francois de Menil was a documentary filmmaker. He established his architecture practice in 1991. The firm has provided architectural and interior design services for a variety of institutional, residential, retail and corporate office projects. fdmarch.com


Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight 2009 | 73 min

   Directed and Produced by: Wendy Keys
Executive Producer: Edgar B. Howard
Editor: Tom Piper
David W. Leitner
Original Music Composed by: Hayes Greenfield
Associate Producer: Muffie Dunn

To many, Milton Glaser A'51 is the embodiment of American graphic design during the latter half of this century. Immensely creative and articulate, he is a modern renaissance man — one of a rare breed of intellectual designer-illustrators, who brings a depth of understanding and conceptual thinking, combined with a diverse richness of visual language, to his highly inventive and individualistic work.T
he full breadth of Glaser’s remarkable artistic output is revealed in this documentary portrait, from newspapers and magazine designs, to interior spaces, logos, and brand identities, to his celebrated prints, drawings, posters and paintings. To Inform and Delight offers audiences a much richer appreciation for one of the great modern renaissance men.

Artfully directed by first time filmmaker Wendy Keys, the film glances into everyday moments of Glaser’s personal life and captures his immense warmth and humanity, and the boundless depth of his intelligence and creativity.


Combo 2009 | 4 min

Still from Combo
Blu and David Ellis

  Directed and Written by: Blu and David Ellis A'94
Producer: studio cromie
Editor and Director of Photography: Blu
Cast: Blu, David Ellis, Angelo Milano

A collaborative animation by Blu and David Ellis, Combo was filmed in an abandoned convent in Grottaglie, Italy.

David Ellis is an artist based in NYC who works across all forms of time-based media to produce visual responses to music and sound. blublu.org | davidellis.org | studiocromie.org

Monster 2003 | 109 min | TRAILER

Monster film poster
  Directed and Written by: Patty Jenkins A'93
Producer: Mark Damon, Donald Kushner, Clark Peterson, Charlize Theron, Brad Wyman
Director of Photography: Steven Bernstein
Cast: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern

The 2003 critically acclaimed Monster earned Charlize Theron the Best Actress Oscar for her unflinching portrayal of Aileen Wuornos, executed in 2002 for killing six men. Examining her horrific life in highway prostitution that resulted in a violent string of murders, and her relationship with the young Selby Wall (Christina Ricci), the film gives a compassionate, yet honest, look into the complexity of a serial killer.

After studying at The Cooper Union, Patty Jenkins attended the American Film Institute. Monster was her debut feature film.


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