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Student filmmaker sees through 'Eyes of a Child'

October 6, 2005

A still from Suter's film "Eyes of a Child" shows Beatrice, the main character, in a school yardCinema major Delphine Suter recently took a trip down memory lane in creating "Eyes of a Child," a film about a young, passionate reader. Now, she awaits every filmmaker's dream: The 2006 International Cannes Film Festival.

"Eyes of a Child" will debut during the festival as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmakers Showcase. Suter earned the Cannes invitation by winning the $8,000 grand prize for the Eastman Scholarship Award for Cinematography and Excellence from Kodak.

France's Cannes Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. Each year it draws thousands of visitors to view nearly 1,000 of the world's newest -- and most innovative and artistic -- motion pictures.

SFSU student Yael Braha was one of two Eastman Scholarship winners in last year's competition.

The competition drew 49 submissions from 35 accredited film schools throughout the United States and Canada this year. Eastman Scholarships honored Suter, a second place winner and a faculty scholar. The faculty scholar wins an $8,000 grant for film production. Judging was based on sample reels, faculty recommendations and the film's cinematography.

"Eyes of a Child" was nominated for the Eastman Scholarship before the sound work and final editing was complete.

"The degree of passion in the film, I think, even transcends sound check," said Professor Jim Goldner, who has been with the Cinema Department since it began in 1963. "I love it when a picture speaks for itself without the soundtrack."

The film is about a young girl named Beatrice, an avid reader who enters a fantasy world through reading books, often blurring the lines between reality and her imagination. "I love reading, I love stories and I love photography," Suter said. "I grew up reading a book a day."

Photo of Delphine Suter on the set of her film "Eyes of a Child" listening to one of her child actorsThe budding filmmaker co-produced "Eyes of a Child" with SFSU alum and cinematographer Joey Mullen through their production company, Adelphia Films. Suter's mother, a theater director, wrote the script in a few days in response to her daughter's search for a screenplay. It was the perfect story dealing with child psychology that she was seeking, Suter said.

"Eyes of a Child" contrasts Beatrice's fantasy book world with her real life. The imaginary scenes were shot on overexposed 200T film to more deeply saturate colors, creating the child's vivid, made-up world. The reality scenes were filmed with underexposed 500T Vision 2 film to flatten hues and decrease contrast. The camera's shutter was also closed down to give the image of a drab, dull world.

"To me, when you light something, it's like painting a frame," Suter said. "You're painting it, but you're painting it with light."

Until graduation and Cannes draw near, Suter will work on a feature-film script. She has yet to decide whether to use the scholarship money toward completing her next film or attending Famu, a film school in Prague. "She's a very innovative, extremely talented and hard-working person," Goldner said.

Founded amid the political activism and artistic experimentation of the 1960s, the SFSU Cinema Department has educated generations of filmmakers including Academy Award winners Steven Zaillian (Best Screenplay, "Schindler's List," 1994), Christopher Boyes (Best Sound, "Titanic," 1998, "Pearl Harbor," 2001, "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," 2004) and Steve Okazaki (Best Short Documentary, "Days of Waiting," 1991). In 2000, Entertainment Weekly named the department one of the nation's top film schools.

-- Student Writer Lisa Rau with Matt Itelson
Photos: Alan Chun


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Last modified October 6, 2005 by University Communications