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February 28, 2006

23 Films To Premiere At “Docworks-NYC,” CUNY’s First Festival For Student Documentaries, March 3 At Graduate Center

Documentary Film Pioneer Albert Maysles To Be Guest Of Honor

NEW YORK, February 28, 2006 – The New York Polar Bear Club swimming in freezing water off Coney Island, an ex-con who killed the man who raped his daughter, the resurrection of a 1926 Japanese avant-garde film, a Jamaican family struggling to survive in Brooklyn: these are just four of the 23 stories making their screen debuts at “Docworks-NYC,” the first annual festival of student documentary work from The City University of New York. 

The event takes place 6 –9 p.m. Friday, March 3 at the CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan. Documentary filmmaking pioneer Albert Maysles will be Guest of Honor for the event and deliver the keynote address. Admission is free and a reception for the filmmakers will follow the program.

The films, ranging in length from 1 minute to 17 minutes, were produced in documentary programs at four CUNY senior colleges: Brooklyn College, The City College of New York (CCNY), Queens College and Hunter College. The festival also celebrates the addition of a new documentary program at City College’s Center for Worker Education.

Twelve students in CCNY’s M.F.A. in Media Arts Production program – Daniel Akiba, Sara Booth, Lori Chodos, Yolanda Dividal, Elisabeth Belin Harris, Doug Ing, Jordan Kligerman, Lazara Nelson, Bangbay Siboliban, Carmen Vidal, Octavio Warnock-Graham and Cara Weir – are among the participants.

“These films will shock, amuse and educate, as all good films do, but they have a deeper resonance because they are not made-up stories,” said Professor Dave Davidson, Director of the M.F.A. Program in Media Arts Production at City College and Co-Director of the event. “They are drawn from the personal experiences of our students and from what they see around them.”

“At CUNY, we encourage students to explore the use of the documentary format as a tool for change, as a way of reaching out to the world and as a way of building bridges between peoples of various cultures,” added Annette Danto, Professor of Film at Brooklyn College, the other Co-Director.

The “Docworks-NYC” festival celebrates the long legacy of film education and documentary filmmaking at CUNY as well as the diverse human experience of the student body at the nation’s largest public urban university. Documentary filmmaking in the CUNY system dates to 1941, when Hans Richter, the Dada film artist and documentary maker came to City College to teach documentary film at the newly formed Institute of Film Techniques, noted Professor Davidson. “CCNY’s program is the oldest college-level film program of any kind.” 

“Docworks-NYC” is a festival that celebrates the human experience – a people’s festival at a public university,” added Professor Danto. 

The keynote speaker, Albert Maysles, is a pioneer of the “Direct Cinema” movement of the 1960’s. He and his late brother, David, pioneered the observational approach to subjects using portable synch sound and lightweight 16-millimeter cameras. Their films, Salesman, Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens, revolutionized the genre. Maysles is currently completing a documentary on Cristo and Jeanne-Claude’s Central Park Gates.

For more information on "Docworks-NYC" visit