Current VPA News

VPA News

The incredible, iconic legend Grace Jones will highlight the 15th annual Syracuse International Film Festival (SIFF) when it kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 10, with a fundraising gala at the Redhouse Arts Center in downtown Syracuse.

Jones will be the celebrity guest of SIFF for the first day of the festival. Opening night will feature a screening of “Bloodlight & Bami,” a film about Jones that has received rave reviews throughout the world, and the presentation of a coveted Sophia Award by SIFF for her work in music and film. The evening will also include a Q&A with the star.

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) and its Department of Transmedia are co-sponsors of the festival. VPA film faculty play a major role this year; in addition to Owen Shapiro, co-founder and artistic director, Jeffrey Palmer has curated the Indigenous Peoples Showcase (Oct. 14), Alex Mendez is a judge for the Music Video Showcase (Oct. 12) and Vasilios Papaioannu is the director of the Oct. 14 screenings in Shemin Auditorium, Shaffer Art Building.

VPA film students serve as volunteers and projectionists. They will also show their work on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. in Shemin Auditorium as part of the David and Carol Schmuckler New Filmmakers Showcase.

In addition to Jones, there will be other celebrity guests attending events throughout the five days of the festival, including Daniel Baldwin, who will receive the Award for Social Justice, and Jeremy Garelick, who will present two of his most recent films, “Banana Split” and “Looks That Kill,” both filmed in Syracuse, out of competition.

“We are excited and honored to have Grace Jones as our celebrity guest for this festival,”says La Shaun Jones, SIFF board chair. “She is an icon for her work in film and music and for her career as a supermodel. She is a strong woman who has paved her own way and been an inspiration for many of us.”

“The range of Grace Jones’ work in music and film and her network of associations, from Andy Warhol to Jerry Hall to Robert Mapplethorpe, is astounding,” says Cody Slade, SIFF vice chair. “She is in herself a history of the last 50 years of the American pop and rock culture. And she has lost none of the energy and drive that made her special, as reviews of her performance at Bestival in England were through the roof with praise of her energy and fire.”

“This is shaping up as one of the best programs we have ever offered,” says Shapiro. “The range of films submitted for competition, the interest shown by other celebrities and film officials, is as strong or stronger than it has ever been. There is something for everyone in the festival this year.”

For ticket information and a full schedule of events, visit