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Student film to premiere at Cannes Film Festival

May 14, 2004

Image from Braha's "The Waves" of a Bernini angel in Rome, Italy"The Waves," a short film by graduate student Yael Braha, will screen this month at the world's top showcase for new movies: the Cannes Film Festival in France.

The film will debut during the festival as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmakers Showcase. Braha, who is pursuing a master of fine arts degree in cinema, earned the Cannes invitation by being one of two student filmmakers nationwide to receive the $2,500 Eastman Scholarship Award for Cinematography and Excellence from Kodak.

"The Waves," described by Braha as a "poetic experimental narrative," features famous statues in San Francisco and her native Rome. Voices representing the statues recite original poetry written by Braha and friend Mauro Mazzetti. The statues of Willie Mays, Joan of Arc, St. Francis, Bernini’s Angels and others discuss their voices, thoughts and feelings about time, space and life, as life passes them by. "The Waves" is shot on black-and-white, 35-mm film and features a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix.

The 57th Cannes Film Festival, held through May 23, is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. Each year it draws thousands of visitors from around the world to view nearly 1,000 of the newest innovative and artistic motion pictures.

Photo of Yael Braha"Yael has a very imaginative concept that succeeds. It is beautifully done and moving," said Stephen Ujlaki, chair of the SFSU Cinema Department. "She's going to have a very good career. She is a very talented filmmaker."

The fact that "The Waves" features Dolby Digital sound and an Academy Award winner on its crew is unusual for a student film. Braha recruited Mark Berger, a sound designer at the Saul Zaentz Film Center in Berkeley, to be the supervising re-recording mixer for the film. Berger won Oscars in Best Sound for "Apocalypse Now," "The Right Stuff," "Amadeus" and "The English Patient."

"While writing the film, I found that the sound is extremely important," Braha said. "I really wanted to have enough latitude to experiment and create another sound-scape within the film."

Braha, a 29-year-old Oakland resident, is a Webby Award-winning graphic designer who works full time for the Exploratorium as a multimedia specialist.

She already has her next three films planned -- another poetic experimental narrative, a documentary on her family history, and a film about her mother Deny, who died unexpectedly last fall.

Her long-term goals include continuing to make films and teach at the university level. She would like to start her own film festival in Italy as well as an international school of arts for adults, children and the disabled -- all dedicated in memory of her mother.

The Kodak Filmschool Competition, inaugurated in 2000, is open to students and recent graduates in the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions. Nominees for the Eastman Scholarship Award are evaluated on the basis of academic achievement, creative and technical ability, initiative, communications ability and range of filmmaking experience. A jury, consisting of a professional cinematographer, distinguished scholar, independent filmmaker, and industry or trade association executive, evaluates all work and makes the final selections.

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.

-- Matt Itelson
Photos: Braha by Lui Gino de Grandis; Bernini statue by Frazer Bradshaw


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