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Cinema staffer's debut a hot pick at film fests

October 16, 2006

A still from Diana Rumjahn's film "Going Home" showing three stuffed animals looking across an expanse of grassDiana Rumjahn only knew film from a fan's standpoint when she started working in the Cinema Department in 1998. Motivated by students and faculty, Rumjahn has evolved into a do-it-yourself filmmaker whose debut project, "Going Home,” is attracting film festival attention worldwide.

Rumjahn, the Cinema Department's office manager since 2000, is most excited that "Going Home" has been selected for the 50th London Film Festival, one of the world's most prestigious. About 300 films from 60 countries will screen at the festival, which takes place Oct. 18 – Nov. 2. Of the more than 1,500 entries in the Short Cuts and Animation categories, the British Film Institute chose 88 for the festival.

Other film festivals that will screen "Going Home" include the California Independent, Los Angeles International Children's, West Chester, Penn., and Madcat Women's International. The film garnered honorable mention at the 2006 Festival of Short Film and Video at the Marin County Fair and has already been shown at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, Port Townsend, Wash., film festival and Mill Valley Film Festival.

Jennifer Hammett, assistant professor of cinema, said it is very rare for a first-time filmmaker -- particularly someone with no background or formal education in film -- to reach one of the world's top venues.

"Diana is an enormous natural talent, particularly as an editor," Hammett said. "She has a very unique, strong voice. … She is able to tap into her voice in a way that's so powerfully direct."

Photo of Diana Rumjahn"Going Home," a short film in stop-motion style, is about three stuffed animals on a journey to find their mother. Rumjahn hopes her film will illustrate the importance of family, community and taking care of others.

"I want to give my viewers happiness," she said. "Hopefully, this film will inspire people to go on a journey and make a positive connection."

Rumjahn has worked at SF State since 1988, previously in enrollment services. While working, she earned her bachelor's degree in social science, awarded in 2003.

In the Cinema Department, Rumjahn discovered what she calls a special sense of community. She grew impressed with the faculty's breadth of knowledge and generosity, as well as the enthusiasm and openness of the students.

Rumjahn discovered she wanted to go beyond talking shop with cinema faculty and students, and the self-taught photographer decided to buy a digital video camera and start filming.

"I explored and got my feet wet," said Rumjahn, who plans to make more films. "I just wanted to go out and do something different."

Rumjahn devoted her winter and spring to "Going Home," serving alone as director, producer, writer, editor, cinematographer and photographer.

She remains grateful to those faculty members who gave her filmmaking advice.

"Faculty gave me their personal time," Rumjahn said, noting their busy schedules and advising responsibilities. "They have given me lots of positive feedback and encouraged me to keep going."

-- Matt Itelson
Still from "Going Home" courtesy of Diana Rumjahn


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Last modified October 16, 2006 by University Communications