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Bank, Heyman Achievements Equal More Success for MFA in Film Program

bentley heyman
Bentley Heyman

October 21, 2016—The Stony Brook Southampton/Killer Films MFA in Film program got two big boosts for its already meteoric momentum in the last week, based on two major achievements.

First, MFA in Film degree candidate Bentley Heyman's short film Kingdom won the Best Experimental Film award at the inaugural Nottingham International Film Festival (NottIFF). Kingdom was developed in the MFA in Film program and workshopped with Jennie Allen and Mercedes Ruehl.

Also announced this week, author turned director Melissa Bank's short film, Siren, has been accepted to two festivals, both in Manhattan in November: the 2016 New York Short Film Festival, running from November 4 to 10 (; and the Zero Film Festival on November 9. Siren was adapted from Bank's short story, "Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run Away," and was shot as part of the Film program's groundbreaking 202020 initiative.

The Nottingham International Film Festival was held from October 7 to 9, 2016 with screenings throughout the fabled city in England's Midlands, known around the globe as the home base for Robin of Locksley, aka Robin Hood. The Savoy, Nottingham's art deco cinema, played host to world and U.K. premieres and the festival hub at the German cinema-themed venue Das Kino created a party vibe for travelling filmmakers.

A sister festival to both the Manchester and Oxford film festivals, NottIFF is now looking to follow in its sister festivals' footsteps and make its own international event one that can stand up and be counted within the international film community.

The Best Experimental Film Award won by Heyman's Kingdom and the other bespoke Robin Hood awards were chosen by a jury made up of knowledgeable film industry insiders and experts.

melissa bank film
Melissa Bank (left) with MFA Writing/Directing faculty Jennie Allen and Ally Kirkpatrick.

Bank's film, Siren, will be screened first as part of the first annual New York Short Film Festival, running November 4 to 10 at one of Manhattan's best loved independent cinemas, the Cinema Village in Greenwich Village. Showcasing the best of short filmmaking from around the world, the NYSFF celebrates indie films and filmmakers.

Siren will be the first film screened in the 75-minute segment NYSFF is calling Block 13 on Tuesday, November 8, at 6 p.m. at Cinema Village, at 22 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003.

Then, on Wednesday, November 9, Siren will be screened in a block beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Soho House New York as part of the eighth annual Zero Film Festival. Zero Film Festival is described on the festival's website as "the first and only festival exclusive to self financed filmmakers and the authentically independent films they create."

ZFF is a New York based independent not-for-profit organization committed to "supporting underrepresented filmmakers and screening the world's best self-financed films for cinema lovers everywhere."

Bank, who also teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing program at Stony Brook Southampton and in the famed Southampton Writers Conference each summer, will join the Director of the MFA in Film program, Killer Films chief Christine Vachon; MFA in Film Associate Director Magdalene Brandeis; and another MFA in Creative Writing professor, the author and film authority Neal Gabler in a panel discussion at the 2017 AWP conference, held February 8 to 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Titled "Loose, Faithful, and Literal: Adaptation from Novel to Screen," the panel discussion will examine, among other topics, how screenwriters and directors may vary in terms of how faithfully, loosely, or literally they cling to the original story when adapting a long story into the moving picture medium.

For more information about the MFA in Film program, visit or contact