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Student film heads to Cannes

May 17, 2007

Photo of the "Ignorance is Bliss" team Sean Christensen, Greg Wild-Smith and Miriam Wilson"Ignorance is Bliss," a three-minute animated short film produced and directed by San Francisco State student Sean Christensen, has earned a berth at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in France. It screens this month as part of the international festival's Short Film Corner. Cannes also screened SF State student films in 2004 and 2006.

Christensen, a senior majoring in cinema, collaborated with Oakland-based graphic designer, writer and illustrator Miriam Wilson and Web designer and animator Greg Wild-Smith on the sardonic piece about expectations in the afterlife. Christensen directed, Wilson wrote the script and Wild-Smith created the 2D computer animation. The film was produced under a partnership the trio dubbed Animated State. Christensen is also CEO and creative director of his own company, Square One Cinema, LLC.

"Ignorance is Bliss" grew out of sketch comedy work that Christensen and Wilson honed at San Francisco's sketch comedy and film production company Killing My Lobster. The story revolves around a new arrival in heaven who must answer a bizarre question about insects and other small creatures before being admitted. Cannes' promotional materials said that the short "pokes fun at how sometimes our expectations of the divine overshadow the often painful and hilarious truth."

A frame from the animated short "Ignorance is Bliss"Wilson said she came up with the idea after reading the statistic that most people in their lifetime swallow an average of four spiders while sleeping. She wondered if the fact would be good material for a sketch and shared her idea with Christensen in a phone conversation.

"I thought Miriam's idea was funny and told her we could make it into an animated short,” said Christensen. "We went to work with the idea of entering it in the Lobster's annual hi/lo film festival." The film went over well at the festival and Christensen entered it in Cannes as a lark, never expecting to get any response. But it wasn't long before he started receiving e-mails from the festival about hotel accommodations in Cannes and finally a message that the film had been chosen.

"We couldn't believe it," Christensen said. "It started off as a joke I heard on the phone one day and the next it's a film on its way to France."

"This proves that you can do anything you put your mind to," said Wilson.

None of the team will be able to make it to Cannes, but Christensen is submitting "Ignorance is Bliss" to other U.S. film festivals where he plans to attract a buyer in the online or television youth market.

One of Christensen's instructors, Professor of Cinema Jameson Goldner, said he is delighted to hear of the triumph, though he's not surprised. "Sean is an exceptional talent, wonderfully imaginative and always full of surprises. He is at once a highly individualistic creator as well as a popular crew member on his colleague's films."

In 2004, SF State student Yael Braha's "The Waves," a black and white short film, was screened in Cannes as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmakers Showcase. Cinema student Delphine Suter's live action film, "Eyes of a Child," screened as part of the Kodak showcase in 2006.

For more information about the SF State Cinema department, including current on-campus screening of student work and other events, visit

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified May 17, 2007 by University Communications