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AUS students and professor head for Cannes
Short films by nine students from American University of Sharjah (AUS) have been accepted into the Short Film Corner at the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival. Also accepted is a film by College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) professor Jack Swanstrom, making it an even ten films that have been accepted from AUS at the prestigious film festival taking place May 16-26, 2012.
Considered a meeting place for professionals from around the world, the Short Film Corner is more of a showcase than a competition, though entries are selected by a committee. Through it participants can meet prominent filmmakers, exchange ideas in a professional area, promote their films and attend workshops and conferences.
According to CAAD professor Jack Swanstrom, whose film Bu Qtair has also been accepted into the corner, "The College of Architecture, Art and Design and the Department of Design have always strongly supported independent and student voices in regional cinema, and I think this group of student filmmakers has demonstrated a depth and maturity that we hadn't yet seen."
"The Minor in Film was started just over two years ago so this level of recognition was unexpected. It's immensely gratifying to see our first two groups of film minors recognized by organizations as prestigious as the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival, the Dubai International Film Festival, the Emirates Film Competition and the Abu Dhabi Film Festival," he added.
The Short Film Corner started in 2004 and is used as a platform by directors and short film producers to have their films seen by a wide audience. Bringing young talent to the forefront, the film corner gives budding filmmakers the opportunity to take advantage of the festival's education and industry programs.
"I was thrilled to know that my animated short film is going to be part of this edition of Cannes. Of course this is a great opportunity for me as an animator and filmmaker to have my film seen by an international audience in a great platform like Cannes," said Mahya Soltani. Her short film is entitled Sweet and Sour like a Pomegranate.
According to participating student Ali Monguno, "My passion for film intensified after taking my first film theory class with professor Jack Swanstrom. Being selected has given me the confidence to follow two career paths that will surely complement each other: architecture and film. In fact, my final design project is exploring the threshold between both worlds-conceptually, functionally and systematically." His film Cold Play will also be featured in the festival.
"Screening at Cannes provides our films a shot at international recognition. It is the first of a series of steps we as filmmakers have to take to establish ourselves in the industry. What we do know is that none of this would be possible without the film minor at AUS, which supported us from pre-production to the final products," said Mohamed Mamdouh Salaheldin, director of Halfway.
Other participating AUS students include Sarah Alagroobi with The Forbidden Fruit, Maha Dahlan with Grande, Omnia Elafifi with Donia, Hana Kazim with The Final Division, Salma Serry with Dinner #7665 and Najiha Zaimuddin with Autopilot. Two of the selected students are majoring in design. The other selected students hail from the AUS College of Engineering and the AUS School of Business and Management.
"It is extremely gratifying, and a great honor, to be advancing the creative voice and stories from the Middle East in such important national and international venues. We are all very proud of the students, faculty and staff involved in the film program at CAAD," said Peter Di Sabatino, Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design.