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MFA in Film Co-Sponsors 2016 SUNYWide Film Festival

SOUTHAMPTON, NY, February 12, 2016—Less than a year after being approved by the New York State Education Department, the MFA in Film program at Stony Brook Southampton + Manhattan has announced that it will be co-sponsoring the 7th Annual SUNYWide Film Festival ( SWFF7), to be held April 8-9, 2016 at the campus of festival host and co-sponsor SUNY Oswego. As part of the collaboration, Killer Films co-founder and Director of the Stony Brook MFA in Film program Christine Vachon will give the keynote address.

Growing out of the Stony Brook Film program’s six-year association with digital imaging pioneer Canon USA, Inc., established and cultivated by Vachon and MFA in Film Associate Director Magdalene Brandeis, Canon is generously presenting SUNYWide’s 2016 Grand Jury Prize—a Canon EOS C100 Mark II kit with EFS 18-135mm lens. The prize has a retail value of close to $7,000.

"We love getting to know the undergraduate filmmakers and their work and hope to cultivate their interest in our new MFA program with Killer Films," said Brandeis. "Plus, we are proud to bring our long-standing relationship with Canon to the table, and are delighted by their very generous presentation of the Grand Jury Prize."

"SUNY Oswego is absolutely thrilled to have Stony Brook joining us to sponsor the 7th Annual SUNYWide Film Festival," said Joshua H. Adams, Director of the SUNYWide Film Festival. "They've added their MFA Program in Film into the mix (the only one in the SUNY system), along with their partnership with Killer Films and esteemed keynote speaker Christine Vachon. All this combined with their bourgeoning relationship with Canon USA, Inc. has provided SWFF7 with an amazing Grand Jury Prize. We are extremely excited to partner with Stony Brook, and look forward to this year's event."

Co-founder of the indie production powerhouse Killer Films and MFA in Film Director Christine Vachon and her Killer Films partner Pamela Koffler had a record-breaking four feature films in competition at Sundance this year, with several of their films making the New York Times "best" lists. Killer Films' 2015 release Carol, directed by Todd Haynes, was recently nominated for five Golden Globe Awards and six Academy Awards.

"I'm honored to be speaking at this year’s SUNYWide Film Festival," said Vachon. "There is exciting content being created by undergraduates and I am looking forward to seeing this year's festival selections. At Stony Brook, our goal is to offer a new model of instruction by matching the reality of the film business today and embracing new distribution platforms. I'm pleased to offer the SUNY community the opportunity to study with us."

This year's SWFF7 Grand Jury Prize, a Canon C100 Mark II, features Canon's innovative Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus technology. Designed to improve the shooting experience with increased accuracy and control, the C100 features advanced image processing that provides enhanced color resolution and virtually eliminates unwanted artifacts.

Improved ergonomics and a larger, tiltable electronic viewfinder give the EOS C100 Mark II a more comfortable handling experience. The EOS C100 Mark II also has the capability to record a variety of frame rates and codecs, including 1080/60p and MP4 files.

"Canon USA is proud to have a growing relationship with the Stony Brook/Killer Films MFA in Film," said Lisa Gualtieri of Canon USA, Inc., "and proud to present this state-of-the-art digital filmmaking equipment to the greater SUNYWide community of undergrad film programs within the SUNY system as this year’s Grand Jury Prize."

Launched in 2009 as an opportunity to showcase the cinematic work of students and faculty from the SUNY system, the SUNYWide Film Festival is a result of the vision and dedication of Phil Hastings, associate professor of Film and Video Arts at SUNY Fredonia. Over the first five festivals, more than 400 students submitted films and videos to the competition, and selected films and videos have gone on to garner awards at other regional and national film festivals.

This is the second year that the SUNYWide Film Festival will be held at SUNY Oswego. At last year's festival, Brandeis and producer/screenwriter Annette Handley Chandler, who serves on the faculty of the MFA in Film program, took part in a number of SWFF6 festival panels. Among them, Brandeis moderated a panel on "Getting the MFA" and Handley Chandler and Brandeis both participated in the "Breaking into the Business" panel.

This year's first class of MFA in Film degree candidates includes two students who were in competition at last year's SUNYWide Film Festival: SUNY Oswego student Jordan Bianchi and SUNY Binghamton student Ethan Scarduzio, winner of last year’s Grand Jury Prize.

"While at the SUNYWide Film Festival, we heard from Magdalene Brandeis, who spoke about Stony Brook University's brand new MFA film program," said Grand Jury Prize winner Ethan Scarduzio, "and I decided to apply. I've since been accepted, and will be shooting my first short film this spring. As someone who came from an undergraduate cinema program focused on experimental, non-narrative filmmaking, it was an incredible experience developing a script in a master class. Furthermore, every class that I’ve taken at Stony Brook University has given me incredible insight into how to become a better filmmaker."

MFA in Film student Jordan Bianchi added: "My short film, As Ever, was accepted into the SUNYWide Film Festival, and submitting was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Through the festival I was also introduced to SUNY Stony Brook’s MFA in Film. Now, as a student, I have the opportunity to be exposed to the best this industry has to offer. Both SUNYWide and Stony Brook offered me validation, camaraderie, and most importantly, film citizenship within a community of filmmakers. These entities understood us, embraced our work, and have propelled us in a direction we can be proud of."

The SUNY Stony Brook MFA in Film — hands-on, experiential, in-depth, and project driven — is a three-year program in screenwriting, directing, and producing, with production periods culminating in a feature screenplay, an MFA thesis film, or a feature producer’s package. Faculty Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler, along with top industry professionals, guide participants through the essential elements of independent film production, drawing on a curriculum requiring 45-48 credits.

The MFA in Film is located at Stony Brook Southampton’s Manhattan facility and in the Carriage House, a digital film studio on the Stony Brook Southampton campus, which includes the Avram Theater and Gallery, a 429-seat theater that was substantially renovated in 2007. Students have access to Canon C100s (with 3 Canon Digital Cinema Prime lenses and a Red Rock Cage shoulder mount and follow focus for each camera), Panasonic AG 150s, Kino Flo and Arri light kits, Sennheiser lavaliers and booms, iMacs and Final Cut Studio.