Current VPA News

The 13th annual Syracuse International Film Festival will be held Oct. 19-23 at various venues around Syracuse. The College of Visual and Performing Arts is presenting a number of the screenings at the festival, whose artistic director is Owen Shapiro, Shaffer Professor in the Department of Transmedia’s film program.

Many of this year’s films have connections to Syracuse University and Central New York, including:

  • “The Paper Store” by Nicholas and Katharine Clark Gray is an award-winning film that tells the story of Annalee, an academic ghost writer who works in the shadows of a college campus. Clark Gray is a Central New York native and the daughter of Department of Drama Professors Gerardine Clark and James A. Clark.
  • “Almost Sunrise” by Michael Collins '98 features two Iraq war veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Collins is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and the founder of Thoughtful Robot, a production company committed to crafting compelling social justice films that galvanize change.
  • “Next Week in Bologna” is a feature film made by graduate students, including two from VPA's film program, who participated in the International Filmmaking Academy summer workshop in Bologna, Italy. The film was produced under the mentorship of Cannes- and Sundance-winning filmmaker Rob Nilsson. Students from 12 of the world’s most prestigious film schools participated in the workshop.
  • The David and Carol North Schmuckler New Filmmakers Showcase presents the best of 2015-16 student shorts by film students in VPA and television/radio/film students in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Many of these films have since screened and won awards in numerous film festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad.
  • “Captain Fantastic,” starring Viggo Mortensen and produced by Monica Levinson '90, is an award-winning film is set in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, where a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.
  • “On the Map” by Dani Menkin recounts the story of the underdog 1976-77 Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team, which toppled the four-time defending Soviet Union team and put Israel firmly "on the map." Menkin was a visiting artist-in-residence in VPA's film program, during which time he made the Israeli Academy Award-winning film “Is That You.”
  • “The Good Mind” by Gwendolen Cates is about the sovereign Onondaga Nation in central New York State, the Central Fire of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which inspired American democracy. The Onondagas advocate for the environment while engaged in a battle with the U.S. government over ancestral lands stolen in defiance of a treaty with George Washington. The film features Oren Lyons '58 H'93.
  • Pedro Cuperman Tribute: “Incident Light.” The screening of this new film from Argentina honors the late Cuperman, an SU professor whose vision inspired artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians to incorporate all art forms to fully grasp the meaning of the verbal and visual arts.
  • “Dark Around the Stars” features in the lead role Syracuse native and actor/producer Mark Kassen. The film tells the story of Glen Sweet, who sets out on a quest to end his life after experiencing heartbreaking tragedy and loss. The film features a host of wonderful cameos and roles, including a major part played by the festival’s honorary board president Tom Bower.
  • “Nighthawks on the Blue Highway” is by Le Moyne College’s Michael Streissguth. The Nighthawks inhabit the soul of blues music. Founded in Washington, D.C., more than 40 years ago by Little Walter disciple Mark Wenner and guitar wizard Jimmy Thackery, the band thrives on its direct link to the great blues masters, having played with such legends as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Gregg Allman, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton and John Lee Hooker. VPA instructor and staff member John Craddock was a producer.
  • “A Veteran's Story” by David Gandino of Syracuse tells the story of Syracuse’s own Patrick Heagerty (father of Michael Heagerty of the Palace Theater) and his experiences in World War II. Since the film’s premiere last April, Pat Heagerty has passed. The film was edited by VPA graduate film student Alessia Cecchet.

View the full schedule and purchase festival passes on the festival website,