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Santa Monica Team Receives Award in International Film Festival

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By Daniel Larios
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December 2, 2014 –The Santa Monica College (SMC) film program was the only film school from the U.S. to receive an award from one of the most respected student film festivals in the world, the 2014 FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH in Germany.

“Solidarity,” the film submitted by the SMC team of former SMC student Dustin Brown and Salvador Carrasco, won the "Prix Intercultural Special Mention" for Best Film Fostering Intercultural Dialogue.  

The award, sponsored by Interfilm Akademie Munchen, recognized two films: “Deserted (Nivut Golem)” by Yoav Hornung of Tel Aviv University with the “Best Film Fostering Intercultural Dialogue” Award; and the “Special Mention” Award that went to “Solidarity.”

“I am very proud of Dustin and of SMC’s film program because we are a high-quality, low-cost alternative coherent with SMC's educational philosophy of universal access,” said Carrasco, who heads SMC’s film production program.

Carrasco received the award on behalf of Brown, “Solidarity’s” director.

The film follows the plight of two undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles who are dealing with loss and who connect through collective action, according to Brown’s successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the project.

“With remarkable sensitivity, this film shows how lonely illegal immigrants are and how that leads to their being exploited even more,” said the jury in their official statement.

"Solidarity," was the first film to come out of SMC’s new film production program and has been screened at several national and international film festivals, including Cannes and the San Diego Film Festival, where it won Best Dramatic Short. The film was also nominated for a BAFTA Award.

“My goal for ‘Solidarity’ was not for it to get awards or be screened at prestigious festivals,” said Brown, who is currently in the directing program at the American Film Institute Conservatory.

“I wanted to create a human story about the struggles of two undocumented immigrants that hopefully would resonate with people,” he said. “If it contributes to creating a dialogue about the common dignity and respect we all deserve no matter what our background, then it’s a success for me.”

At the FILMSCHOOLFEST, SMC’s “Solidarity” competed against 46 films from 39 film schools representing 22 countries.

Only ten films from eight countries received awards.

 “This festival was very special because it brought together the world’s top film schools and hosted both student filmmakers and their professors with incomparable generosity,” said Carrasco.

“The films screened reaffirmed that nothing matters more in cinema than having something meaningful to say in an honest and engaging way,” he said. “This premise is the staple of the films we are making at SMC!"

FILMSCHOOLFEST is a festival where many successful directors, such as Lars von Trier (“Nymphomaniac”) and David Yates (“Harry Potter”), held their first screenings.

The other two film schools from the United States invited this year were UCLA and Chapman University.

To learn more about the film production program at SMC, visit the program’s Facebook page at:

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