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May 9, 2006


Work Of Student Oscar Nominee Featured In Student Showcase

NEW YORK, May 9, 2006 – Legendary documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker will deliver the keynote address at Cityvisions 2006, the eighth annual showcase and juried festival of thesis films from the M.F.A. in Media Arts Production at The City College of New York (CCNY).  This year’s event, featuring 12 new documentaries and fiction shorts, will take place at the Clearview Cinema, 62nd St. & Broadway, May 30 and 31, starting at 6 p.m. both nights.

“This is such a strong collection of films, it is perhaps our best ever,” said Dave Davidson, Director of the M.F.A. Program.  “It is compelling material – entertaining, but by no means lightweight.  This group of filmmakers exemplifies the values of our program, which is to tell important stories with social implications.”

Some of the screen stories in the festival include: a filmmaker trying to find his birth father to answer questions about his racial identity; the “dumpster diving” movement known as the Freegans; an examination of the life and legacy of writer Hunter S. Thompson; a parable about the flight of African American slaves, and the ironic story of a hermit who became a media celebrity.  Among the student filmmakers in the class of 2006 is Carmen Vidal, who recently was nominated for a Student Academy Award.

The keynote speaker, D.A. Pennebaker, is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of cinema verite filmmaking.  This style revolutionized the documentary genre by discarding narration, reenactments and other staged techniques in favor of direct and uninterrupted observation, creating a fly-on-the-wall sense of immediacy.  Mr. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back, a portrait of Bob Dylan, and Monterey Pop, which starred Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, both made in the 1960s, were two of the earliest films this technique to have a successful theatrical distribution.

Since 1977, Mr. Pennebaker has partnered with Chris Hegedus on a host of acclaimed films.  The War Room, which followed Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1994.

Mr. Pennebaker’s appearance at Cityvisions is a homecoming of sorts. He taught documentary filmmaking at The City College in the 1970’s.  “City was my favorite teaching gig”, he reflected.  “This sort of celebrates my own connection with that documentary film class.  It was a wonderful class and I loved them all.  Quite a few have gone on to major achievements since.”

Cityvisions is open to the public.  Admission is $5.00 per night.  Awards for the best films in the festival, as selected by a jury of industry professionals, will be presented May 31.  For more information, go to

M.F.A. Program Contact:

April Gatling, MFA Program Coordinator, 212-650-7235,