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Sundance Recap from the Chair

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival proved to be another excellent celebration of Columbia College Chicago alumni, some who were there with films to show, and others whose recent achievements I highlighted at my annual presentations.

Gary Michael Schultz (BA '01) worked in the department as the Screenwriting Center Coordinator until a couple of years ago when he made the move to L.A. He’s already directed his first feature and was in Park City to support Rudderless, actor William H. Macy’s feature directing debut on which Schultz worked as a producer. Rudderless closed the festival and was a major hit with audiences and critics. Schultz has been greenlit to direct his second feature, for which he wrote the script.

Schultz's Devil In My Ride recently came in at #5 on Horror-Punks' hip year end Top 10 Horror List.

Also at Sundance was Jordan Vogt-Roberts (BA ’06), director of 2013 indie hit Kings of Summer. This year Jordan was at Sundance with Nick Offerman: American Ham, a live taping of the comedian’s one-man show as performed at New York’s Town Hall Theater (Offerman starred in Kings of Summer).

A standout at Sundance was Dear White People, produced by CCC Television alumna Lena Waithe (BA '06) and edited by CA+S alumnus Phillip J. Bartell (BA '92). Theresa Guleserian (BA ’05) served as Production Designer on The One I Love and cinematographer Gabriel Patay (BA ’06) shot the documentary Mitt that premiered at the festival.

One of my formal CCC events was a public conversation between Lena Waithe and I that took place the morning after a very successful late night premiere and party for Dear White People. Waithe is an extraordinary young woman who is having a major impact as a television writer and now also as a movie producer. Her imagination, dedication to craft, collaborative skills, and clear-eyed self-reflection, have clear roots in her Columbia College education, which she was quick to emphasis to a fascinated audience.

In my other major presentation, I highlighted the work of Kyle Heller (BA ’08) and Leah Kilpatrick (BA ’09), as well as Gary Michael Schultz. Heller’s company VariEnt is now well established in Beverly Hills and London and his latest feature Medeas just won major awards at  Palm Springs (New Visions/New Voices), Marrakesh (Best Director-jury presided over by Martin Scorsese, Marion Cotillard, and Terry Gilliam), and Tbilisi (Best Aesthetic). In March, his web project Cinematique will be featured at South By Southwest where a feature film he produced called Home will also premiere.

Like Heller, Leah Kilpatrick graduated with specialization in producing and moved to L.A. where she continues to work as a line producer. Kilpatrick got the feature Free The Nipple made in New York while Hurricane Sandy had the Big Apple on its knees. Kilpatrick is a woman of many talents and is now also well established as a performer in the highly competitive world of stand up comedy.

As always, it was great to catch up with former students and see the wonderful work they are doing. I am especially heartened that our students are graduating as fully competent professionals and that they are having an impact in the industry within a few years of completing their studies.

Bruce Sheridan
Chair, Cinema Art + Science