At the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the end of the school year means late nights studying, long days editing and student work presented as part of the annual First Look Festival.
The event will kick off Friday with a screening of Morgan Spurlock’s new film Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Beginning April 16, two days of student films will be featured at the Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre.
On May 2-5, for the first time, the festival will include work from the school’s six divisions at events held at the Directors Guild of America Theatre and the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.
“It was a big undertaking to unify the festivals,” said Alessandro Ago, the school’s director of programming and special projects. “We knew that all of the divisions were producing amazing work and with First Look unified as one event, I think it’s going to be a special event for alumni, industry and, most importantly, for the students involved.”
Each of the individual divisions will host its own evening during the four-day festival to showcase and celebrate the achievements of select students.
On May 2, the Writing for Screen & Television Program will host the invite-only First Pitch at the Four Seasons. On May 3, the Division of Film & Television Production’s First Film festival will be screened at the Directors Guild of America. On May 4, the John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts will present Adobe First Frame and, on May 5, the school’s top-ranked Interactive Media Division will present First Move, featuring work from interactive students.
Students from the school’s other divisions – Critical Studies and the Peter Stark Producing Program – worked on films shown throughout the festival.
“As always, I’m eager to see and experience the work of our remarkable young women and men,” said School of Cinematic Arts dean Elizabeth M. Daley. “We have made the festival a true collaborative event, which mirrors the interdisciplinary efforts of our students from across the school.”
April 16 screenings, 11 a.m.
Layover, On the Shore – Two stories set in contemporary Hawaii – one real, one imagined. Over the course of one night, an aimless young filmmaker is inspired to make a film about his home.
Second Best – At their community’s annual cultural gathering, two Indian-American sisters compete in a Hindi-speaking competition, setting off sibling rivalry onstage and off.
Signal – Against the backdrop of 19th-century wireless telegraph experimentation, a scientist survives a confrontation with a distraught local who claims the technology keeps him from contacting his recently departed wife.
Lines – Three at-risk teens dream of becoming professional skateboarders, but do they have what it takes to succeed?
Believe It – This family fight stinks, but Emma can escape with her imaginary Motown friends if her sister doesn’t ruin everything.
Round and Round – A quirky portrait of people whose daily lives revolve around a carousel in danger of grinding to a permanent halt.
April 16 screenings, 2 p.m.
The Layabouts – Four friends want to commit a robbery, if only they knew how.
Little Spoon – Dillyn Nielsen must find a way to give up her one and only addiction: spooning.
A Moth in Spring – Fiction and reality, past and present blur as director Yu Gu faces censorship on a film shoot in China.
The History of Space Flight – A quest to reach their presents before Christmas sends the protagonists on a mission that rivals man’s journey to the moon.
Ellen – Everyone needs someone waiting for them at home.
Limikkin Ranch – A hired gun is summoned to a mysterious ranch to kill a pack of marauding coyotes, although the true threat is more ancient and evil.
No Time for Holiday – A reckless 15-year-old girl’s late-night runaway may destroy her last chance at the one thing she needs most.
Pez – Let the fun dispense!
April 16 screenings, 5 p.m.
You Kill Me – A dark comedy about one man’s quest to die.
What’s in a Smile? – Filmmaker Andy DeJohn tests whether the simple act of smiling more can actually make him a happier person.
Surf Detroit – A brother and sister live in Detroit but dream of moving to California to become surfers.
Efrain – When a 10-year-old Hispanic boy steals a watch and is caught by his father, it sets off a series of events that leads to the family being torn apart.
How to Eat Bacon – When an escaped gorilla knocks him out and steals his identity, a timid office worker finds the only way to regain his life is to unleash his inner animal.
Fig – In South Los Angeles, a young single mother’s love for her daughter is put to the ultimate test.
Angel’s Bread – A struggling cellist finds a job and musical inspiration in a bakery.
April 17 screenings, 1 p.m.
Rx – Forced out of his practice after a malpractice case, a well-established physician accepts a job at a medicinal marijuana clinic and realizes there’s more to his new practice than writing prescriptions.
Your Wedding – When a little girl decides to tape her brother’s wedding, she has no idea that she will capture the end of their relationship.
Where We Live – An intimate portrait of an Iraqi refugee family trying to create a new home for themselves.
Sudden Death! – Los Angeles has been overtaken by Sudden Death Syndrome, a disease that has only one symptom ¬- spontaneously breaking into choreographed song and dance.
Seen Also in Men – A documentary that explores the struggles and triumphs of fatherhood among single black men.
Rendezvous – A refreshing care package helps bridge the gap between great distances.
April 17 screenings, 3:45 p.m.
Rain Soon Come – A young clairvoyant attempts to make contact with her recently dead mother, but instead summons her long-lost grandmother.
Good Grief – An average high school junior in search of love gets the girl based on the lie that his parents are dead.
Out of Nowhere – Alone and on the run, a man tries to escape the desert.
Videosyncracy – In the future when globalization and the Internet rule everyone’s lives, three rugged survivors dare to be different.
The Samurai of Strongsville, Ohio – When a high school wallflower and wannabe samurai takes a stand against her archrival, she finds that following the way of the warrior might mean losing her best friend and possibly herself.
The Nature of Fall – An 11-year-old boy challenges time and reality as he tries to keep his older brother from being deployed to war.
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