Three Santa Monica College Films Will Screen at In-Person Festival, including 2021 Best Student Film Winner “Broken Layers” and 2020’s Finalist “The Attempt”
By Staff Writer
Santa Monica College (SMC) student film “The War Within”—written and directed by SMC film student Marta D’Ocon—will screen at the 25th anniversary edition of the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the American Pavilion during the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, on May 25. This is SMC’s seventh student film to be selected for the showcase where SMC is the only community college represented.
The 33 films selected as part of the 2022 showcase will be presented to an in-person audience, along with the 68 finalist films from 2020 and 2021, which means that Santa Monica College will have a total of three student films on show in Cannes: 2021’s Best Student Film winner “Broken Layers” (written and directed by Niccolo Rolim) and 2020’s official selection “The Attempt” (written and directed by Daniel Despart), both to be screened on May 23. This will be the first time the Cannes Film Festival is back on ground since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“’The War Within’ is extraordinary for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it was written and directed by an 18-year old student, Marta D’Ocon, whose directorial perspective and artistic maturity in this film go way beyond her years,” said SMC Film Professor Salvador Carrasco, who heads the film production program. “Also, it happens to be a quintessentially Latin American story told by a Spanish—Catalonian, to be precise—filmmaker, a courageous undertaking (given the historical complexity of Spain-Latin America relations) worthy of giants like Luis Buñuel, the Spanish director who dissected Mexican cultural identity in unforgettable films like ‘Los olvidados.’”
Carrasco further added: “Last but not least, because it is simply extraordinary: well-crafted, moving, thought-provoking, and with something relevant to say about the world we live in and the seemingly insurmountable challenges women have to face whatever context they find themselves in, including so-called ‘progressive’ ones.”
D’Ocon stated that the very first seed for “The War Within” came to life in 2019 “when I read an article about women’s forced abortions in different parts of the world. It got under my skin that in this age women apparently are still not expected or trusted to make final decisions about their bodies, their lives, their choices.”
“I wanted to make this film to confront that issue head on, stressing the fact that, when it comes to basic human rights, women get the short end of the stick on either side of the ideological spectrum. As fate would have it, here we are in 2022 with the Supreme Court potentially about to overturn Roe v. Wade,” D’Ocon said. “I hope ‘The War Within’ contributes with its grain of salt so that we never forget how the most precious things in life can be taken away from us at any moment.”
D’Ocon stated that she is “forever grateful to Santa Monica College and Prof. Carrasco in particular for their mentorship, as well as to our cast and crew for their invaluable support and collaboration.”
In the past eight years, seven SMC films have been official selections at the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival, with “Broken Layers” winning Best Short in 2021. Carrasco speaks to this record: “As head of the SMC Film Program, I am incredibly proud of our students and their films, which are both in tune with and challenge the pulse of the world we live in. I believe our film school is now on par with the best in the nation, with the caveat that ours costs a mere fraction of most tuition fees out there.”
The immensely affordable cost aside, Carrasco adds: “Our film program is helping redefine the notion of what a community college can be when we place our educational bet on talent, work ethic, and fulfilling social values at the highest possible standard.”
The 2022 program features 33 films including 24 female-identifying directors and co-directors at the helm of 17 projects, 10 films focused on LGBTQ+ topics, and filmmakers of diverse backgrounds from the U.S. and around the globe, highlighting new voices in six categories – Emerging Filmmaker Documentaries, Emerging Filmmaker Short Films, Emerging Filmmaker LGBTQ+ Films, Student Documentaries, Student Short Films, and High School Films.
“Broken Layers”—which won Best Student Short Film at The 24th American Pavilion Emerging Student Showcase—is a humanist portrayal of the Iraq War and its aftermath as experienced by Rosa, a half-Latina, half-Arab U.S. Marine. As for SMC’s 2020 entry, “The Attempt” is set in 1921 post-World War I Berlin and it is based on a true story. “The Attempt” follows Soghomon Tehlirian, a young man who is given the mission to assassinate the chief orchestrator of the Armenian genocide. During his first attempt, Soghomon realizes that killing another man is not easy and contemplates starting a new life with the woman he loves.
SMC offers an Associate of Science degree and Certificate of Achievement in Film Production. To learn more, visit smc.edu/filmproduction or email Carrasco_Salvador@smc.edu. The film program—as well as the films that come out of it— is on YouTube as the “Santa Monica College Film Program” channel.