The California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) and the CSSSA Foundation are proud to announce the launch of a first-of-its-kind collaboration with American Cinematheque to foster opportunities for young, under-resourced filmmakers in California. This new collaboration aims to break barriers and provide equal access to the world of filmmaking for aspiring students from all walks of life.
With the program already underway and running, CSSSA students are engaging in a transformative filmmaking experience for high schoolers from across California that provides unique access to acclaimed guests such as Steve Starkey, the legendary producer behind timeless classics like “Forrest Gump” and “Cast Away,” as well as Andrea Pallaoro, whose latest film “Monica” stars Patricia Clarkson and Trace Lysette.
The CSSSA Foundation and the State of California are committed to supporting young artists and every year grant scholarships to under-resourced families, making the program entirely free for hundreds of students. The scholarship program and other donor-supported initiatives allow talented students to unlock their full potential, pursue their passion for filmmaking, and enter the creative industries pipeline regardless of financial constraints.
As a public-private partnership founded in 1987, CSSSA has long been a driving force behind nurturing artistic talents, and its collaboration with the American Cinematheque further solidifies its mission to prepare students for higher education and successful careers in the arts, media, and entertainment industries.
Emily Nye, Executive Director of the CSSSA Foundation, expressed her excitement about the collaboration, stating, “By supporting CSSSA students and programs, the CSSSA Foundation strives to level the playing field for young filmmakers and offer opportunities for emerging artists who may otherwise never have the chance to hone their craft. This collaboration with American Cinematheque allows us to create a more inclusive and dynamic film community.”
“We are thrilled to join forces with American Cinematheque in this groundbreaking endeavor to support talented students from diverse backgrounds,” said Pietro Pinto, Chair of the Film Department for CSSSA. “The CSSSA film program offers a dynamic/robust ‘hands-on’ approach, emphasizing Cinema d’Auteur and independent cinema, empowering students to discover their unique voice and cinematic style and find success in higher education and beyond.”
Matthew Gallagher, Director of CSSSA, added, “The experience at American Cinematheque has been truly transformative for our students. It opens doors and offers inspiration from accomplished filmmakers, fostering creativity and determination in these aspiring young talents.”
American Cinematheque, a standout organization known for its contributions to film culture, has been instrumental in elevating the appreciation of cinema for both adults and future generations. Their support in this initiative exemplifies their commitment to shaping a more diverse and inclusive film industry.
Ken Scherer, Executive Director of American Cinematheque, shared his enthusiasm about this first event with CSSSA, “We are proud to be able to be part of this summer program to empower young talented filmmakers who represent the future of cinema and storytelling. AC believes in the power of cinema to inspire and we look forward to witnessing the impact of this program on these young filmmakers and the diverse stories they will tell throughout their journey.”
In addition to the support from CSSSA Foundation and American Cinematheque, the CSSSA Film Program has garnered backing from prominent industry entities such as Sony, Pixar, the Golden Globes Foundation, CDE Foundation, and CA Film Commission, affirming the collective commitment to nurturing diverse talent in California’s film landscape.
Throughout the program, CSSSA students have been fortunate to engage with renowned directors like Petzold (Afire), established producers like Steve Starkey (Forrest Gump, Cast Away), emerging producers like Adam Wyatt (Nomadland), and award-winning cinematographers like Sharon Meir (Whiplash). These interactions have provided invaluable insights and inspiration, particularly for students who had not previously had access to such opportunities.
“This program has been a dream come true for me. As someone from a less-resourced family, I never thought I’d get the chance to experience something like this. But the CSSSA Foundation’s generous grant made it possible. It’s life-changing to be exposed to fellow artists and mentors from diverse backgrounds. It’s made all the difference in opening my mind to new possibilities,” expressed Marlon Ochoa, the son of Honduran immigrants and a filmmaking student from CSSSA’s 2023 cohort who will be graduating in August. “Despite it only being four weeks long, I feel like I’ve gotten ahead with years of progress.”
The CSSSA and American Cinematheque collaboration has not only ignited passion and ambition in these aspiring filmmakers but has also set in motion a wave of change that aims to create a more inclusive and equitable film industry for generations to come.
CSSSA Foundation is collaborating with the American Cinematheque on future events with special guests and an exclusive cinema experience. Applications for the 2024 session of the California State Summer School for the Arts will open this fall.