Ferran Mendoza Soler's Aigua Gelida

Screenings, dramatic readings and other special events are on tap for the 26th Columbia University Film Festival. Co-presented with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, this year's annual fest will take place May 3 – 9, featuring the premiere of over 40 thesis short films and feature screenplays by MFA students in the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program.

Columbia Film Program Adam Davidson will receive this year's Andrew Sarris Award, which honors “outstanding service by and artistic achievement of distinguished film program alumni.” Davidson's The Lunch Date won the Palme d'Or for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short at the 1991 Academy Awards. The film was Davidson's MFA thesis film, which screened at the festival the year he graduated.

Andrew Ellmaker's Total Freak

The annual Andrew Sarris Award winner is selected by current School of the Arts Film Program students. Past recipients include Malia Scotch Marmo (’88, Rafina, Madeline, Hook, Once Around), Greg Mottola (’91, Super Bad), Albert Berger (’83, Little Miss Sunshine), Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (’95 and ’94, American Splendor), Kathryn Bigelow (’81, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), Lisa Cholodenko (’97, The Kids Are All Right), Sabrina Dhawan (’02, Monsoon Wedding), Simon Kinberg (’03, Sherlock Holmes), Kimberly Peirce (’96, Boys Don’t Cry), James Mangold (’99, Walk the Line), and Nicole Holofcener (’88, Please Give).

Other highlights from the festival include a discussion on first features. Titled “From Development to Deal: A Conversation on First Features,” Rebecca Thomas (Electrick Children) and Tanya Hamilton (Night Catches Us) will take part in the conversation which will cover their experiences from the idea stage to production and beyond. The discussion will be moderated by Columbia director and faculty member Tom Kalin (Savage Grace).

Kevin Lau's Made in Chinatown

Ira Deutchman, Chair of the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program said in a statement: “Each year, the Festival is an opportunity to take a step back and marvel at the amazing body of work that has been created by our students. We are very pleased that the Film Society is co-presenting the festival with us again this year. They are not only providing us a prestigious platform, but also validation of the quality of the work. It is an acknowledgement that there is no other film festival anywhere that showcases student work with such accomplishment, ambition and diversity.”
“Supporting emerging filmmakers is an important focus for the Film Society,” said Film Society of Lincoln Center's Executive Director Rose Kuo, “We are delighted to welcome back the Columbia University Film Festival and their talented new student filmmakers.”

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Ben Feuer's Vivace!

In addition to Davidson's award-winning short, a number of films from the Columbia University Film Festival have gone on to take honors. Under, directed by Mark Raso, which won a Gold Medal in the Narrative category at the 2012 Student Academy Awards; I Am John Wayne, directed by Christina Choe, which was awarded the Grand Jury Sparky Award for Short Film at the 2012 Slamdance Film Festival; The Recorder Exam, directed by Bora Kim, won the 2012 DGA Best Woman Student Filmmaker Award, and High Maintenance, written and directed by Shawn Wines, which won a Silver Medal at the 2011 Student Academy Awards.

This year's lineup of thesis films include two that have already garnered acclaim. Jordi Wijnalda's Southwest recently screened in one of three shorts programs at the 42nd New Directors/New Films festival. Just this morning it was announced that Jefferson Moneo's Going South will be part of the 2013 Cinéfondation Selection of the 66th Cannes Film Festival.

The schedule of this year’s events:

Friday, May 3 – Sunday, May 5
Film Screenings: 2013 Showcase of MFA Films
Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam.
Tickets for these screenings are $13 and go on sale Thursday, April 18.

Monday, May 6
Both events below are in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Complimentary tickets to both of these events may be picked up on Monday, May 6 only.

4:00pm: CUFF Creative Producing Pitch Contest
Eight students whose feature film project pitches were selected by a panel of industry professionals will compete for a one-on-one meeting with legendary producer David Picker. Jury includes Jack Lechner, Anne Carey, Amy Robinson, Michael Hausman.

7:00pm:  From Development to Deal: A Conversation on First Features
A panel of filmmakers discuss their first feature films: Rebecca Thomas (Electrick Children) and Tanya Hamilton (Night Catches Us), and others to be confirmed. Moderated by Tom Kalin (Savage Grace, Swoon).

Tuesday, May 7
7:00pm: Screenwriting Night
An evening of screenplay readings.
The Alice Griffin Jewelbox Theatre
The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street

Wednesday, May 8
7:00pm: Student Selects
Screenings of the favorite films of the festival as voted by students at the Columbia University School of the Arts MFA Program.
Miller Theatre, Columbia University
2960 Broadway at 116th Street

Tickets to Student Selects go on sale Friday, April 19—for additional information and to purchase tickets, visit cufilmfest.com.

Thursday, May 9
7:00pm: Awards Night
Screenings and awards ceremony of the films designated as Jury Selects of the festival. The 2013 Festival Jury is comprised of faculty of the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program and, for the first time this year, outside jurors from the industry, director Tamara Jenkins and producer Jay Van Hoy.
The Paris Theatre
4 West 58th Street

Tickets to Awards Night are on sale Friday, April 19—for additional information and to purchase tickets, visit cufilmfest.com.