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November 19
2003 - U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon introduces the first of several bills intended to block the 78-million-ton Cemex gravel mine in Soledad Canyon [story]

The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Mar 1, 2014

JenniferFischerStarting and running the Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival for seven years was something I truly enjoyed.

I loved the way it evolved and grew and the people I met through the annual event at the Repertory East Playhouse in Old Town Newhall. I particularly loved the way the festival integrated projects made by local youth – elementary, junior high and high school – as well as students of College of the Canyons and California Institute of the Arts, and professional independent artists. Audience members and filmmakers seemed to enjoy it, too.

Last year was the first year since 2005 the event didn’t happen. For many reasons, co-founder Ramon Hamilton and I decided to bring the festival to a close. It was not an easy thing to let go, but as is often the case in life, sometimes you have to give up something you love.

In fact, some of the best filmmaking advice I’ve ever been given, which I received in my first and only formal film class, speaks to that reality. Something to this effect: “You know you’ve made a good film when you have to cut something you love.” Sometimes it is a great scene that just doesn’t work with the final cut of the film, or an entire character you remove from the a final draft of a screenplay.

Life can be like this, too. Sometimes to achieve balance and take one aspect of your life to the next level, you have to give up something you love. This was the case for me with the film festival, and I do miss it.

So, I’m glad that on March 8, College of the Canyons will be hosting “Indie Saturday,” a film event dedicated to quality independent film work by talented filmmakers of all ages.

It’s cool for me to see an event like this happening once again in the Santa Clarita Valley. It’s even cooler that one of my films is being featured.

I’m hoping there are other SCV residents who will also enjoy the opportunity to celebrate independent film with us. Indie Saturday kicks off March 8 at 11 a.m. and wraps at 6 p.m., and the entire event is free, so you can come to any or all of the films showing that day. There are four different film blocks scheduled:
11 a.m. to noon: Student Films (K-12) with Q&A

Noon to 12:30 p.m.: Intermission

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.: Student Films from COC with Q&A

1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Intermission

2 p.m. to 4 p.m.: “Smuggled” (Professional Indie Film) with Q&A

4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m:. Intermission

4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.: “Truth Has Fallen” (Professional Indie Film) with Q&A


smuggledmovie“Smuggled” tells the story of 9-year-old Miguel Rodriguez and his mother, Hilaria, who are being smuggled into the United States in a small compartment beneath a tour bus. Things do go not as planned, and a new destiny awaits them.

Written and directed by SCV Resident (and SCV Film Festival Co-Founder) Ramon Hamilton, “Smuggled” is a multi-award-winning film with five “Best Of” awards and 15 official selections. The film has been screening at colleges and universities around the country for the last several months. It has also been praised by various media outlets, including ABC, Univision, Fusion and NBCLatino, among others.

I’m the proud producer of “Smuggled”and am honored to show it alongside “Truth Has Fallen,” the latest film from Sheila Sofian, a critically acclaimed filmmaker whose animated works and art style always inspire me.

TruthHasFallen“Truth Has Fallen” is a one-hour live action-animated documentary that examines the work of James McCloskey. He’s the founder of Centurion Ministries, an organization whose mission is to free prisoners wrongfully convicted of murder. Employing a combination of abstract, surreal animation and live-action images, “Truth Has Fallen” asks how innocent people could be convicted of murder; what could be done to prevent such injustices in the future; and what happens to these innocent people when they are released from prison after years of incarceration. The film recently had its successful world premiere at the Dok Leipzig Film Festival in Germany and will be screening at the Tricky Women Film Festival in Vienna, Austria, on March 15.

Sofian is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has received numerous grants, including recognition from the Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship and the Pew Fellowship in the Arts. She is an associate professor at USC, where she teachers animation production courses. From 2005 to 2011 she was the chair of the Animation Program at the College of the Canyons.

Both Hamilton and Sofian will be in attendance to take audience questions and engage in a discussion following the screenings of their films.

Here are a few more details about the event:



College of the Canyons, room HSLH-101

26455 Rockwell Canyon Road

Santa Clarita, CA 91355



Visitors will need to pay $2 for a one-day parking permit. Lot 5 will be the best place to park (there’s a parking vending machine in the adjacent lot 6). See the [campus map].

I’m truly looking forward to this opportunity once again to celebrate independent film in the Santa Clarita Valley. Hopefully I’ll see you there.

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