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Santa Monica College Student Film Headed to Cannes
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By Lookout Staff

April 27, 2016 -- A short film written and directed by a Santa Monica College student will be screened at the 19th American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, school officials announced Tuesday.

"Cora" by SMC student Kevin Maxwell is one of 23 short films and documentaries by emerging filmmakers from around the world selected for the showcase and one of only four films from U.S. schools competing in the “Student Short Films” category, school officials said.

The other U.S. schools represented are NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Chapman University and The School of Visual Arts.

“The mission of SMC’s film program is to provide the highest level of education at the lowest possible cost, and to ensure that our students' films have artistic integrity and something relevant to say,” said SMC Film Professor Salvador Carrasco, who heads the film production division.

Latarsha Rose IN CORA by Santa Monica College Student Kevin Maxwell.
Latarsha Rose in CORA by Santa Monica College Student Kevin Maxwell.

“CORA is the perfect example of this," Carrasco said. "We couldn't be prouder of the work produced by our student filmmakers."

The film tells the story of an African-American woman "who fights racism and domestic abuse in the 1960s, only to face the toughest choice of her life," college officials said.

The lead role is played by Latarsha Rose, known for her role as Portia in the 2012 film The Hunger Games.

The film is based on the true-life story of Maxwell's grandmother, who ran a restaurant in the Jim Crow south of the 1960s and was trapped in an abusive marriage.

"She was dealing with racial prejudice and with infidelity and abuse, all this simultaneously,” Maxwell told the Corsair, Santa Monica College;s student newspaper.

Maxwell planned to produce a documentary, for which he shot some footage, but after failing to raise funds decided to write a dramatic screenplay.

Maxwell recruited classmates to help with the production and raised money on a crowd-funding website. His break came when Annie Spielberg, director Steven Spielberg’s sister and a former client of Maxwell's grandmother's cleaning service, became involved with the project.

"Cora" is the second SMC student film to be accepted into The Cannes American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase and one of several that have won major recognition.

SMC's film school was the only one from the U.S. to receive an award from the 2014 FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH in Germany, one of the most respected student film festivals in the world ("Santa Monica Team Receives Award in International Film Festival," December 2, 2014).

Student films also have been nominated for awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the San Diego Film Festival and won aan award at the Women's Independent Film Festival, officials said.

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