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June 12, 2006


First Academy Award Ever for CCNY Film Student

NEW YORK, June 12, 2006 – Carmen Vidal Balanzat, a second-year Cinematography major the M.F.A. in Media Arts Production program at The City College of New York (CCNY) won the Silver Medal in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 33rd annual Student Academy Awards competition.  The award was announced at a ceremony Saturday evening, June 10, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Ms. Vidal, a native of Spain, whose film “6AM” was selected in the Alternative Films category, is the first CCNY film student ever to win a Student Award from the Academy.  In addition to her trophy, she received a $3,000 prize.

“I’m ecstatic!” Ms. Vidal exclaimed.  “The whole experience of being chosen as a finalist, coming to California, meeting the other students filmmakers, making industry contacts professionals and being here for the awards ceremony has been amazing.  At times, I can’t believe it’s all happening.”

 “6AM,” a portrait of a quiet New York City in the last moments before dawn, was created as a group project for Vidal’s “Producing and Directing the Documentary” class.  She served as writer and director on the project.  The other students from the class of 2006 who collaborated with her are: Octavio Warnock-Graham, director of photography; Sara Booth, editor; Ira Blanchard, second camera, and Piotr Kajustra, producer.

“6AM” bested more than 140 films in a regional competition before becoming a finalist.  On May 18, the Academy announced that the film was chosen to receive one of two prizes being awarded in its category.  Ms. Vidal and the other students who worked on the project were flown to California to participate in a week of industry-related activities and social events leading to the June 10 awards presentation ceremony.

Although it is a documentary in the vein of Walter Ruttmann’s “Berlin – Symphony of a Great City” and Joris Ivens’ “Rain.” “6AM” was moved to the “Alternative” category in the regionals, because of its strong visuals and meditative quality.

“One of the best things about the City College graduate film program is that they give us enormous creative freedom,” Ms. Vidal added. “If you have a good proposal you can get it done.”

The Student Academy Awards were established by the Academy in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level.  Past winners who have gone on to prominent careers as filmmakers include Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis, John Lasseter and Trey Parker.

About The City College of New York

For over 158 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 12,200 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.