Stars of Pace: Film

From indie rom-coms featuring more than 100 Pace students and faculty to Emmy Award-nominated documentaries, it’s time for some popcorn because Pace is in the movies!

In addition to being a set for movies including Spiderman 2 and Spiderman 3, romantic comedy Trust the Man, starring Julianne Moore, David Duchovny, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Eva Mendes, and more, Pace students, faculty, and alumni are starring in and making films.

Shrimpin’ in Belize, Popping the Cork, and Meeting the Ambassador
Dyson students in Professor Maria Luskay’s, EdD, Producing the Documentary course have been doing all that and more for years.

  • To cork or not to cork, that is the question students set out to answer in spring 2012, when they traveled to Portugal with Luskay and New York Times environmental blogger Andrew Revkin to study the connection between the cork in the bottle of wine on your restaurant table and the fate of forests that are repositories for wildlife across Southern Europe and parts of North Africa and a source of livelihood for 100,000 people. The resulting documentary, Battle Behind the Bottle: A Film on the Cork Question premiered on the PLV Campus in May. Read more about their journey on their blog.
  • In 2011, the student filmmakers travelled to Belize to explore the life of an aquaculture entrepreneur and her sustainable shrimp farming. The film Linda Thornton: Seeking Sustainability, One Shrimp at a Time,” was awarded a Best Short Documentary Award of Merit at the 2011 Best Shorts Competition, appeared in the New York Times Dot Earth blog, and even received a congratulatory tweet from aquatic filmmaker and explorer Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques Cousteau. Read more on their blog:
  • Going back even further to 2010, Luskay and her team spent a week in The Netherlands filming a documentary on Fay Hartog-Levin, the American Ambassador to Holland appointed by President Obama. The Life of an American Ambassador was the recipient of a Best in Category Award for the documentary category at the 2010 Indie Short Film Competition.

Watch more student videos on the MCA YouTube channel.

18 Voices, 2 Emmy Nods
The PBS documentary film Dyson Media and Communication Arts Professor Allen Oren produced and directed, 18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre, was nominated for two Emmy awards—one for the piece itself and one in the category of research. The documentary is about the Kol Nidre, the most sacred chant in Judaism, and how it reached that status. Oren previously won an Emmy for a series on the history of Madison Square Garden and was nominated for two others.

Finding Fred
Dyson film and screen studies student Geoffrey Kappenberg wrote, directed, and produced Finding Fred, a 10-minute documentary which was selected for screening at the 2011 Sprout Film Festival at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The film is one of the oral history projects on individuals with disabilities that students produce each semester in Seidenberg courses, in partnership with AHRC New York City. Geoffrey was a student in Seidenberg Professor Jim Lawler’s Fall 2010 “Community Engagement through Information Systems and Technologies” course.

When Harry Chooses Pace
Pace’s NYC Campus became a movie set during the fall 2010, when more than 100 Pace students, faculty, and staff worked on the award-winning independent film, When Harry Tries to Marry. Dyson performing arts major Rahul Rai ‘13, who plays Harry in the film won “Best New Talent” at the London Asian Film Festival. The film won the “Audience Award for Best Film” and “Best Crossover Film” and was an official selection at the Austin Film Festival, Mumbai Film Festival, and Gold Coast International Film Festival. Rai who was planning on attending NYU after the film wrapped, fell in love with Pace’s NYC Campus and stayed.  Pace Performing Arts Professor Grant Kretchik, who encouraged Rahul to consider Pace, also stars in the film, alongside several other Pace students including Kayla Mason, Ginger Graham, and Julie Robles, who all blogged about their experiences. The film opened in theaters last year and included a NYC premiere for the Pace Community.

From Screenwriting Course to the Big Screen
As part of a course assignment while completing her bachelor’s in communications at Pace, Dyson alumna Annette Courniotes ’08 wrote a screenplay based on the story of her grandparent’s escape from Communist-occupied Czechoslovakia. Her professor, Maria Luskay, EdD, thought it was so good she encouraged Courniotes to shoot and edit one act to enter it into film festivals. The film, Freedom’s Gate, received numerous award nominations. Read more.

Black Maybe
Pace student group Black Student Union (BSU) explores what it means to be black in college in their documentary Black MAYBE featuring Felonious Munk, which premiered on the NYC Campus this year. You catch watch the film here: Part 1 Part 2.

Film Takes a Walk on a Briarcliff Campus
Pace’s Briarcliff Campus became home to a movie set during the spring 2012, when the Coen Brothers’ new film Inside Llewyn Davis, which includes Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac, and Carey Mulligan, set up shop around campus. Check out photos from The Pace Chronicle.

Professor’s Wild Style
Pace professors practice what they teach. Just ask, Dyson Adjunct Art Professor Charlie Ahearn, whose film was named one of the top 10 films about New York alongside Scorcese’s Taxi Driver and Woody Allen’s Manhattan by the New York Post. The film, which The New York Post says “played a huge role in popularizing hip-hop around the world” focuses on the early days of New York’s rap, graffiti, and break-dancing scene.

Vito on HBO
Dyson Distinguished Professor of English and Women and Gender Studies Karla Jay, PhD, has a long history of activism, so it came as no surprise to us that she was selected to be interviewed by director Jeffrey Schwarz for his new documentary Vito about author and activist Vito Russo. Russo played a large role in the LGBT movement, particularly in developing The Celluloid Closet, a groundbreaking work detailing the gay community in film. Jay knew him personally through their work with the Gay Academic Union, the 1973 Gay Pride March, and a variety show called Our Time, which featured not only Jay but also the likes of actress Lily Tomlin as well. The documentary premiered on July 23, 2012 on HBO.

It’s Not Easy Being Green
Dyson acting major Christopher Bert has had his hands full juggling school and roles in film and on television. Chris played a leading role in The Green, a feature film starring Julia Ormond, Cheyenne Jackson, and Illeanna Douglas. During that time, he also filmed a role in a pilot called Bar Karma for Al Gore’s cable network, Current TV. Chris also acted alongside Dyson student Kelly Washington in The Fat Boy Chronicles and most recently played Jake Preston in an episode of CBS’ A Gifted Man, starring Patrick Wilson.

A Documentary that Makes a Difference
Dyson film and screen studies student Emily Cahill ’14 went on an adventure of a lifetime when she was selected to participate in the 2011 Actuality Media Outreach program in Guatemala. Working with three other students, Emily produced CasaSito, a 25-minute film which highlights and explores a nonprofit organization in Guatemala that works to increase educational opportunities for children in rural areas.

Comic Con-quer
Last year, Pace Law School student Anthony Desiato married his long-term love of comic books with his interest in filmmaking for a unique documentary about Alternate Realities, the Scarsdale, NY, comic book shop he’s worked at since high school. The final product My Comic Shop DocumentARy, which Desiato wrote, directed, produced, shot, and edited while a full-time student, was shown at independent film festival at Comic-Con. View the trailer here.

Small School, Big City
Launched in 2003 as one of NYC’s New Century High Schools with intense collaboration from Pace’s School of Education, Pace High School was partly funded by a $57 million grant from the Gates Foundation as one of over 300 “experiments” in small high school design. It is the little high school that could…and did. In 2011, a half-hour documentary, Small School Big City, about Pace High School by Ken Browne Productions premiered at the Professional Development Schools National Conference in New Orleans. Narrated by Sesame Street’s Roscoe Orman, the documentary tells the story of how a chance meeting between a Pace School of Education Professor and a New York City middle school assistant principal turned into a high school that just last year had 4,700 applicants for 108 open spots. View the trailer for the film here.

A Big Break
When the independent film Breaking Upwards was screened at Pace, the directors bonded with students in the audience and subsequently took on six Film and Screen Studies majors as interns to work on the film’s promotion, which landed a feature article in The New York Times.

Student on the Go…at
Dyson performing arts student Dominick LaRuffa was cast as the son of Armand Assante and Cathy Moriarty in the film Goat, currently in post-production. Goat is directed by Paul Borghese and features Dominick as 17 year old Nick Baldano, a role which made him an official card-carrying member of the Screen Actor’s Guild.

A River Runs Through NYC
Pace’s downtown NYC location worked out perfectly for Dyson acting major Cooper Rivers, who was able to shoot Mark Mann’s feature film Generation Um… starring Keanu Reeves on the Lower East Side. The film is expected to release in 2012.

Corujo Cannes Do It!
In 2010, Dyson film and screen studies major James Corujo submitted his film The Contract (made in Pace’s 16MM film production course) to the Cannes Films Festival Student competition. Only 300 films from all over the world were selected and Corujo’s was one of them. As a part of the Creative Minds at Cannes contest, in which five small groups were given a week to complete a film, Corujo made an additional five-minute short film, Kiss and Fly, and placed second.

Know someone who’s missing from this list? Leave your comment below or e-mail us!