FTMA Film Festival to Showcase Student Filmmakers and Industry Veterans

News Story: September 2, 2014

Free event runs September 25–28 in Stamford

Sacred Heart University’s film and television master’s (FTMA) program will host its first film festival in Stamford from September 25-28. This four-day festival, which is free and open to the public, celebrates the cinematic arts with a wide variety of screenings, master classes, workshops and parties.

The Opening Night Awards Gala will be held at the Avon Theater in downtown Stamford where screenwriter and Connecticut native Anthony Tambakis (Warrior) will be honored along with student filmmakers from the FTMA program. Throughout the festival, interactive activities will focus on the works of student filmmakers, who will be joined by film scholars and highly accomplished television and movie legends. Festival venues will include the historic Avon Theater, the Stamford Innovation Center and the Palace Theater.

SHU’s FTMA program, the only graduate film program in Connecticut, has set a goal to cultivate a robust film culture in the state. Starting its second year, the FTMA program is located in Sacred Heart’s Stamford Graduate Center. The program is attracting aspiring writers, directors and producers from across the country and is giving them a home here in Connecticut. According to Justin Liberman, visiting assistant professor and co-program director (along with Damon Maulucci), the FTMA program is providing a community for storytellers and aspiring filmmakers to come and learn the craft of filmmaking so they can tell their stories. “We are less interested in the technical aspects of filmmaking and more focused on teaching our students how to tell a dynamic story. Giving a student the tools to be able to fully represent themselves and their stories in a smart, artistic way is what it is all about,” he said.

The four-day festival will showcase the best student films of the past year as well as staged readings of short and feature-length screenplays. Along with the student films, the festival will offer screenings and discussions with famous and respected filmmakers and scholars. “The festival is the culminating celebration of the terrific work our students have done over the last year,” Liberman noted. “This festival is not only for the filmmakers, but also for the public as I know people will really love the films and what we are doing in the FTMA program.”

By inspiring highly acclaimed professional filmmakers such as Allen Coulter (director, Boardwalk Empire, Sopranos, Sex and the City, House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy), Emily Watchel (screenwriter, Lucky Them), SHU Professor Sidney Gottlieb (editor, Hitchcock on Hitchcock) and Tambakis to come to the festival and share their work with the FTMA students and Stamford, the FTMA Film Festival will provide high-quality programming usually reserved for big market cities like Los Angeles and New York City. “With this program we are really making the announcement that the FTMA program is here and worthy of your attention,” Liberman said. “I really hope the public recognizes the value of this festival and takes advantage of this programming.” The festival which includes a screening and talk back of an episode of Boardwalk Empire with director Coulter as well as a screening and talk back of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film Rope with Gottlieb is completely free and open to the public. The festival will conclude with a special 30th-anniversary screening of Amadeus with the film’s producer, Michael Hausman (Gangs of New York, Brokeback Mountain) and actor Tom Hulce (Amadeus, Parenthood).

Liberman, a graduate of Columbia University’s Film School, says that the lineup for this premiere film festival is indicative of the talent, creative work and vision that exemplify the FTMA program. “Allen Coulter and Michael Hausman are industry legends, and we’re thrilled and honored they and our other highly respected filmmakers will attend and help launch what we’re hoping will be a long-running annual event,” Liberman said. Watchel’s film, Lucky Them, recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and Tambakis just finished a new film, Jane Got a Gun starring Natalie Portman.

“This is going to be a dynamic, entertaining and highly educational event that is being organized and produced, in part, by our students, who will have this incredible forum for showcasing their new work,” added Liberman. “It’s also a tremendous opportunity to invite the arts, film and general communities to share and enjoy the great work being produced locally and nationally, all anchored locally by our FTMA program.”

A comprehensive festival schedule can be viewed at  For more information about the Festival, please contact FTMA program liaison, Louise Giobbi, at 203-569-8445.

FTMA Film Festival - Justin Liberman on Vimeo