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SHU Film Festival Honors Author Rebecca Miller, 'Sopranos' Uncle Junior

Dominic Chianese, seated, in a scene from HBO's "The Sopranos." He will be honored at the Sacred Heart University Film Festival this week. Photo Credit: Facebook
The Avon Theatre is pleased to host Sacred Heart University’s FTMA Film Festival OPENING NIGHT AWARDS GALA Featuring Rebecca Miller Photo Credit: contributed

STAMFORD, Conn. -- The Sacred Heart University film and television master of arts program's third annual FTMA Film Festival opens Thursday in Stamford.

The festival from Sept. 22 to 25 will honor filmmakers Rebecca Miller and Dominic Chianese at its third annual FTMA Film Festival, Sept. 22-25.

The Opening Night Awards Gala will take place at the Avon Theater in Stamford.

The festival honors student work and exposes the community to films, panel discussions and intimate conversations with filmmakers.

At the gala, Miller will receive this year’s Joanne Woodward Award for Excellence. Miller wrote and directed "Personal Velocity: Three Portraits", "The Ballad of Jack and Rose", "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" and her latest film, "Maggie’s Plan".

“She’s a luminary in the film world. She is not only one of the best female filmmakers to ever live, she is one of the most daring and exciting filmmakers working today. She is exactly what we represent here at FTMA: a hard-working artist who uses the medium to explore important issues, while paying tribute to the tradition of cinema," said Justin Liberman, co-program director of FTMA and executive director of the film festival.

The Opening Night Gala will begin with a special VIP screening of "Maggie’s Plan", which premiered at last year’s New York Film Festival and stars Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore and Greta Gerwig.

After the screening, Liberman will moderate a discussion with Miller that will explore her influences, approach to film and advice to young filmmakers.

That night’s audience also will view four award-winning student films (best director, best screenplay, best producer and best picture).

This year’s film festival theme, "Expanding the Scope,"derives from the program’s growth and expansion into a two-year conservatory.

“Filmmaking is such a complicated craft that, over the past few years, students told us they felt like they were just starting to understand the medium right when they were about to graduate,” Liberman said. “We took that comment seriously and redesigned the program to give students an extra year to marinate in what they’ve been learning.”

The four-day celebration of film and television will continue Friday, Sept. 23, at the Frank and Marisa Martire Business and Communications Center on SHU’s Fairfield campus with student screenplay readings and a tribute to stand-up comedy featuring Nick Di Paolo.

Before his routine, audience members will watch episodes of "Louie" and "Inside Amy Schumer" in which he appeared.

On the festival’s third day, Professor Sid Gottlieb will host a Roberto Rossellini retrospective with a screening of "Journey to Italy", starring Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders.

Coffee and breakfast will be served at the 10 a.m. screening, which will conclude with a discussion.

The festival will continue later in the day with a discussion with ESPN’s Molly Qerim of the show "First Take". The event will be moderated by SHU alumnus Terrance Williams.

The day will end with a screening of all the FTMA student films. Filmmakers, casts, crews, friends and families will see the works on the big screen in the Martire Center’s main theater.

The 2016 FTMA Film Festival will close Sunday, September 25, with “A Conversation and Maverick Award Presentation” honoring Dominic Chianese, who is known for his roles in "The Godfather Part II" and as Uncle Junior in HBO’s "The Sopranos".

“We really look for seasoned filmmakers and TV veterans who are true craftsman and have built a body of work that shows how much they really love the process of filmmaking,” Liberman said. “We like to honor the hardworking actor or actress who is more known for his or her body of work than for stardom.”

The festival is free and open to the public. Thursday's Opening Night Awards Gala is free and to the public.

  • Screening of "Maggie's Plan" at 4 p.m. (free to Avon Theatre members); Q&A with Rebecca Miller follows the film.
  • Reception, 6:30-7:30 p.m.; awards presentation and screening of student films.

For more information, visit or contact Paul Rychlik at 203-365-4804 or .

The Avon Theatre is located at 272 Bedford St., Stamford.

For more information about the film festival, click here.

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