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SMC Student Film Wins Cannes Award

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By Lookout Staff

November 23, 2021 -- A short film by Santa Monica College (SMC) film student Niccolo Rolim has won a top award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, school officials announced.

"Broken Layers," written and directed by Rolim, won "Best Student Film" at the The 24th American Pavilion Emerging Stude­­nt Showcase, which ran virtually from November 14 to 16.

Still from SMC student film "Broken Layers"
Still from SMC student film "Broken Layers" (Courtesy SMC Film Production Program)

The film about a half-Latina, half-Arab U.S. Marine coping with the aftermath of the Iraq War was the Film Program's sixth entry at the Pavilion and the first to take home the top prize.

"I was deeply honored by the news that 'Broken Layers' had received such a distinguished award," Rolim said.

"It gives me great joy knowing that the prodigious efforts of everyone involved with the film's production are rewarded in a significant manner."

The film is a "humanist portrayal" of the war and its aftermath as experienced by Rosa, who is grappling with her mixed immigrant background, Rolim said.

It is also an exploration of "the ways in which the children of immigrants reconcile their ancestral heritage with the dominant culture of their adopted country,” the filmmaker said.

Salvador Carrasco, SMC's Film Production faculty lead, called "Broken Layers" the "quintessential example" of the films the program produces.

The films, Carrasco said, "have something meaningful to say about the complex world we live in, and due to the diversity and richness of our students' life experiences, their artistic voices come through in a believable, powerful, and enduring way."

He added, "What feels great about external recognition is that it validates our students' work in an equitable and objective way."

SMC was the only community college and one of seven U.S. film schools represented in this year's Emerging Student Showcase.

The other universities whose films were featured were USC (including a film by SMC alum Kevin Maxwell), Florida State University, The George Washington University, NY Film Academy and the School of Visual Arts.

The other SMC shorts that have screened in competition at the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase are "Cora" directed by Maxwell, "Solidarity” directed by Dustin Brown, “Spaghetti Romance” directed by Carrie Finn, “Life in Color” directed by Bishal Dutta and “The Attempt” directed by Daniel Despart.

Several films that have played at The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase have gone on to be shortlisted for Academy Award nominations.

For more information on The American Pavilion at Cannes, visit

SMC offers an Associate of Science degree and Certificate of Achievement in Film Production. To learn more, visit or email

The film program and the resulting films are on the “Santa Monica College Film Program” channel on YouTube.

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