The 22nd Annual Dusty Film and Animation Festival kicks off Friday, May 6 and continues through Tuesday, May 10 highlighting over 100 films by students graduating from the BFA Film, Video and Animation Department at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). The program includes screenings of short films, videos and animations, and culminates in an awards ceremony with notables from the film and animation industries. This year’s Screenwriters Night is in collaboration with Susan Batson Studio featuring SVA graduating screenwriters’ selected scenes performed live by professional actors. All festival screenings, the Awards Ceremony and Screenwriters Night will take place at the SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues). Many events are FREE and open to the general public. For more event information, please visit:

“We are pleased to kick off our Dusty Film and Animation FestiVal May 6,” said Reeves Lehmann, chair of the BFA Film, Video and Animation Department at SVA. “We’re proud to celebrate another great year for our filmmakers and animators with a festival that offers audiences the chance to see the works of remarkable new talent. And this year, our 22nd year, promises to be one filled with many colorful, dramatic, funny and remarkable stories-all through the amazing world of film, video and animation!”

Awards are presented to students from the BFA Film, Video and Animation Department at the School of Visual Arts who are recognized for outstanding thesis work. The 2011 Dusty Film and Animation Festival and Awards are produced by film producer and SVA faculty member Annie Flocco, with co-producer Meredith Engstrom.

Past Dusty Awards presenters have included SVA alumni, industry notables and award-winners such as Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Phil Donahue, John D. Dilworth, Chris Newman, Stephen Rotter, Nancy Schreiber, James C. Strouse, Danny Aiello, Ellen Burstyn, Sean Combs, Wes Craven, Griffin Dunne, Harvey Keitel, Kevin Kline, David Koepp, Mira Nair, Bill Plympton, John Patrick Shanley, Bryan Singer, Treat Williams and more. The 2011 presenters will be announced in the coming weeks. Screenwriters Night, Saturday, May 7, 2011, is presented in collaboration with Susan Batson Studio. Five-minute scenes by SVA’s screenwriting thesis students are set to be performed live on stage. Screenwriters Night will be directed by Susan Batson, founder of Susan Batson Studio, and produced by film producer and SVA faculty member Annie Flocco. “I am thrilled to be collaborating with Susan Batson on Screenwriters Night this year,” said Flocco. “And excited to see Susan and her actors bring to life the words of our talented screenwriters.”

Susan Batson has been called a “technician of the spirit” by The New Yorker. She has enjoyed the privilege of working with Nicole Kidman, Juliette Binoche, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, Sean Combs, Liv Tyler, Jennifer Connelly, and countless others. Susan Batson is the author of the book Truth: Personas, Needs, and Flaws In The Art of Building Actors and Creating Characters and has been profiled in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Backstage.

Over its more than two-decade history, the Dustys has introduced many graduates of the BFA Film, Video and Animation Department who have gone on to earn national and international recognition. Alumnus and Los Angeles-based film producer Randall Emmett (BFA 1994 Film and Video) has teamed up with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson to shoot a series of films in West Michigan. Among the accomplishments of last year’s graduates of the BFA Film, Video and Animation Department, Joe Minasi (BFA 2010 Film and Video) and Rob Kolodny (BFA 2010 Film and Video) have been awarded prizes for their thesis films. Minasi’s film In the Key of D was winner of the Best Student Film in the Silk City Flick Festival; Best Picture and Best Cinematography in the NYC Filmmakers Film Festival; as well as Best Picture of the Audience Choice award in the East End Film Festival. Kolodny was also awarded Best Set Design and Best Cinematography in the Manalapan Film Festival for his film Shelter, and his film, Land of Nod was screened at NYC’s Anthology Film Archives. Dot, a short comedy directed and produced by 2010 NYWIFT Next Wave scholarship recipient Bennett Elliott (BFA 2010 Film and Video), kicks off the Garden State Film Festival this year. Also at the same festival, Kyle Mumford (BFA 2010 Film and Video) will have a special sneak screening of his first feature film, His Naked Mind. Alumnus William Wedig’s (BFA 2006 Film and Video) film Forged was named the Best Domestic Feature at the 2010 New York International Latino Film Festival. Another Dusty Film and Animation Award recipient making headlines is Jake Armstrong (BFA 2009 Animation). His animation The Terrible Thing of Alpha 9! was featured on the website Cartoon Brew. Notable alumni of the BFA Film, Video and Animation Department at SVA also includes Michael Giacchino (BFA 1990 Film and Video), who won a 2010 Academy Award for his score for Up.

Chris Arrant

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