Vol. 2, No. 5 - February 2009

L. A. Writer's Groups, Kim Peirce Interview and More!

Editor's Note
Brrr! - Winter brought on another installment of Sundance and this year Columbia was well represented (check out our long list of projects here.) Our two year dominance as winners of the Grand Jury Prize for best dramatic feature was extended with a win for faculty member Geoffrey Fletcher, screenwriter for PUSH: BASED ON A NOVEL BY SAPPHIRE. The Columbia School of the Arts party was again a hot ticket so much so that about 700 guests crowded into the venue and rapper turned film producer 50 Cent asked to be put on the guest list. Truth is stranger than fiction indeed.

NaRhee Ahn

Editor's Note
Hi Everyone - CUE is off to a running start this year with the formation of writing groups thanks to Mark Huisman. Please feel free to drop the area coordinators NaRhee Ahn, Westside and Ricardo Acuna, Eastside an e-mail if you'd like to join (San Fernando Valley and the Beaches are still in formation.) And don't forget to check out our Resource Links to join The Columbia Film Writer's Network - a new social network for Columbia alumni screenwriters. We're also very pleased to announce that Columbia alumni actors are organizing a group as well. Please contact Noel Arthur (noelactor@yahoo.com) or Chris Maddox (chris@cmaddox.com) for more info.

CUE would like to congratulate all of the filmmakers and films from Columbia at Sundance this year. Also, congrats to all the Columbia Filmmakers who are up for Independent Spirit Awards. We're also keeping our fingers crossed for alumna Courtney Hunt whose screenplay for her film FROZEN RIVER (2008 Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner) is nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar and Maureen Ryan the producer of MAN ON WIRE this year's Oscar Nominee for Best Documentary Feature.

CUE is a sub-committee of Columbia University Alumni Association of Southern California, Inc. ("Columbia SoCal"), and we encourage all CUE members to join Columbia SoCal with a membership of only $15. Check out their site and upcoming events at http://www.columbia-socal.org/.

CUE is currently working hard to bring you an unprecedented networking event for the Columbia Film Festival in the Spring, and we will keep you posted as details develop. CUE can only exist and work because of you the alumni, so please send us announcements of your projects and/or get involved by joining us for our monthly board meetings on the first Tuesday of every month. Best of luck in the new year, and CUE looks forward to serving you!

Ricardo Acuña, CUE Co-Chair
Edward McGinty, CUE Co-Chair

Alumni Announcements
Kimberly Peirce Breaks It Down For You
Interview by Janet Harvey, SOA Writing '98

In both her work and her life, director Kimberly Peirce SOA Film '96 defies stereotype and speaks from the heart. Her debut feature, BOYS DON'T CRY, drew comparisons to BADLANDS and IN COLD BLOOD for its stark, achingly honest portrayal of murdered teen Brandon Teena -- and incidentally, won a shelf full of awards including two Golden Globes and an Oscar for its two young stars, Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny. Her long-awaited follow-up, STOP - LOSS, takes on a radically different subject the Bush administration's policies in the Iraq war but still explores a territory that is profoundly and distinctly American, with passion, sensitivity, and a rare gift for observation. Her storytelling comes out of integrity that is, as she puts it, "my gyroscope, my emotional compass."

I had the opportunity to sit down with Kimberly and discuss her journey as a filmmaker, how her experience at Columbia has shaped her as an artist, and the part they don't teach you in film school: the practical skill of navigating the insanity of studio development. For her, it's all part of the same job: telling the story she wants to tell.

JH: So, why Columbia? And how has your experience there informed your approach to directing?

KP: First of all, I chose Columbia because there was an emphasis on writing and working with actors, and I think both are completely essential to directing. The more you can write, the more you can see yourself re-written, the more times you can see your writing acted out by actors, that's invaluable. Because in that process, you are learning how dramatic structure works and learning how to see and hear it at work. You're seeing what a good story is. Story and character are really at the heart of everything.


Kim Peirce

More Events
IVY Entertainment Oscar Viewing Party
February 22, 2009, 4:30-8pm
ESPN Zone at LA Live, Downtown LA
1011 S. Figueora St.
Los Angeles CA

CUE members get a special discount on the IVY Entertainment - Digital LA Oscars Viewing Party on Sunday. Just $35 instead of $45 thru Fri Feb 20 -see below! Dress: semi-formal optional. Ticket includes dinner. Cash bar. MUST GET TICKETS/REGISTER IN ADVANCE. CUE members get a special discount - just $35 instead of $45 thru TODAY - Fri Feb 20.

Click special promo page link at http://ivyentertainment.org/oscarpromo.htm by Fri Feb 20.

More Events

Alumni Announcements
On the Red Carpet
Written by Mimi Chen, Journalism '80

With the Oscars looming around the corner on February 22nd, we're happy to note nominations for folks affiliated with Columbia. The 12 nominations earned for the 81st annual Academy Awards include 8 for MILK, produced by James Schamus, who headed the project, produced by Focus Features.

Nominations for MILK include Best Picture; Best Actor (Sean Penn); Best Supporting Actor (Josh Brolin); Best Director (Gus Van Sant); Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black); Achievement in Costume Design (Danny Glicker); Achievement in Film Editing (Elliot Graham); and Achievement in Music (original score) (Danny Elfman).

Also from Schamus' Focus Features, IN BRUGES earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay (Martin McDonagh).

Two SOA Film alumni also picked up nominations. Courtney Hunt '94, picked up a nod for Best Original Screenplay for FROZEN RIVER, a film about a single mother involved with a dangerous smuggling operation. The movie's star Melissa Leo also drew a best actress nom. FROZEN RIVER won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Feature at Sundance 2008 and a veritable avalanche of other awards.

Maureen A. Ryan '92, who is also on the faculty, was nominated for Best Documentary for MAN ON WIRE. The film, about tightrope walker Philippe Petit, has already garnered numerous awards, including Best Documentary from the recent Critics' Choice Awards.

Alumni Announcements
Want to know what's been going on with your fellow alumni? - Here's your chance to make your announcements, ask for assistance and network. Keep sending these in; we'd love to know what you've been working on.

Steve Fife SOA '88 writes - EntertainmentToday.net named its "Best of" lists for 2008, and I was a runner-up for "Best Playwright in LA" for this past year. slfife@aol.com

Herschel Faber SOA Film '00 writes - Open Door Films is actively seeking new material to be developed for the web - all genres considered. The partners in the company are Cori Fry, an Emmy-nominated producer of "Last Comic Standing," and me, a writer, director and producer of new media for the last three years. If you think you have the next great idea for a web-series, we have the ability to bring it to computer screens everywhere. Please query with ideas, treatments or finished scripts to zalex24@sbcglobal.net.

Jennifer Estaris SOA Writing '06 writes - Wonder World Amusement Park for Nintendo DSTM was shipped on January 20th, 2009. I worked with an amazing team at Majesco Studios as the Lead Game Designer. I'd like to encourage you all to get a copy for yourself or any family and friends with a DS. Email me jestaris@majescoentertainment.com for more info.

Submit Your Announcements!

Having a screening, show, reading or other event planned in Los Angeles? Let us know! Email
editor@cue-network.org, be sure to include the event name, date(s) and times, alumni involved, a short description and a hyperlink to your website (if applicable).We will be posting event information on our website and including condensed announcements in our newsletters.

Check out our website: http://www.cue-network.org/.

CUE is a committee of Columbia University Alumni Association of Southern California, Inc.
(Columbia Socal)

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