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Santa Monica College Student Film to be Screened at Cannes

SMC student film “Broken Layers” accepted into The American Pavilion at Cannes

By Sam Catanzaro

Santa Monica College (SMC) student film “Broken Layers” has been accepted into the American Pavilion at Cannes, one of only seven U.S. college movies showcased and the only from a community college.

On April 20, SMC announced that “Broken Layers”–a short film written and directed by film student Niccolo Rolim—had been accepted into the American Pavilion Emerging Stude­­nt Showcase at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. Since 1997 this prestigious competition has showcased the works of the next generation of filmmakers. This year, 25 to 35 short films will be selected by a panel of industry judges and shown in the Roger Ebert Conference Center at The American Pavilion. SMC is the only community college and one of seven U.S. film schools represented in this category of the showcase. In addition, one of the other student films featured hail includes a film by SMC alum Kevin Maxwell.

The film, described as a humanist portrayal of the Iraq War and its aftermath, is the sixth work out of the college’s film program ever accepted into the showcase. Director Rolim centers the story around the experience of Rosa, a half-Latina, half-Arab U.S. Marine.

“The inspiration for “Broken Layers” came from witnessing friends and family struggle to establish a cultural identity as immigrants,” Rolim said. “As a first generation American, I often felt a sense of otherness while growing up and in turn I became fascinated by the personal journeys that immigrants and their children undertook in pursuit of the American dream. More specifically, those who expressed patriotism for their adopted country via military service motivated me to make a film that explored the ways in which the children of immigrants reconcile their ancestral heritage with the dominant culture of their adopted country.”

The other SMC shorts to have screened in competition at the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase in Cannes were “Solidarity” (directed by Dustin Brown), “Cora” (directed by Kevin Maxwell), “Spaghetti Romance” (directed by Carrie Finn, in co-production with CinemadaMare), “Life in Color” (directed by Bishal Dutta, in co-production with Bridge the Divide Media), and “The Attempt” (directed by Daniel Despart). SMC’s Film Production Faculty Lead Salvador Carrasco says that like these films, “Broken Layers” is an example of what makes the college’s film program special.

“’Broken Layers’ is both a highly engaging story and a haunting meditation of the aftermath of war,” said Carrasco, who also served as executive producer. “It is also a powerful artistic testament combining the nuanced performance by Rawan Hage as Rosa, the stylized yet realistic visuals of Milana Burdette and her cinematography team, and the unforgettable soundtrack by Mixtape Quartet. This is the kind of film that makes us proud of what we’ve accomplished in the few years of existence of the SMC Film Production Program.”

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