Three Santa Monica College (SMC) student films — “Hinge”, “Once upon a Woman”, and “Undocumented” — will screen at the Santa Monica International Film Festival (SMFF) on Saturday, December 8 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center, located on 1332 2nd Street in downtown Santa Monica. This year’s SMFF will showcase a total of 25 independent films from local, national, and international filmmakers.

The festival’s films will screen from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. A filmmaker Q &A—that gives the audience an opportunity to delve deeper with the filmmakers—accompanies each block of screenings. An awards presentation and cocktail party—open to those who purchase passes—will cap the festivals at 8:30 p.m. at 1212 Santa Monica. Award presenters include Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President; Ted Winterer, Santa Monica Mayor; Casey Contreras, Culture & Design editor for SMC’s student-run newspaper The Corsair; and SMC alum Alci Rengifo, now a Rotten Tomatoes film critic.

Santa Monica residents, SMC students, and KCRW members can get complimentary screening passes for access to all 25 film screenings (does not include the awards party). Ticket information and access codes are available on the festival’s website, while supplies last.

Brief plot summaries and related information on each SMC student film is listed below:

“Hinge”: Directed by Lisa Mayo and produced by Lindsay Eberts, “Hinge” will receive its world premiere at the Santa Monica International Film Festival. It tells the story of a lesbian couple—portrayed by Joelle Brianne Graham and Wayne Hodges (also SMC students)—whose idyllic life is challenged by their mentally unstable neighbor.

“Once Upon a Woman”: Directed by Wayne Hodges and produced by Tyler Cook, “Once Upon a Woman” is a revisionist Western set after the Civil War in which both cowboys and Indians are struggling with personal conflicts, framed against the approach of the railroad and impending doom. This short film also screened in competition at Prague Independent Film Festival, Vienna Independent Film Festival, L.A. International Shorts, and Silicon Beach Film Festival, among others.

“Undocumented”: Directed by Bishal Dutta, and produced by Lindsay Eberts, Oscar Huezo, and Dennis Sandoval, “Undocumented” is — in the words of Frank Stiefel, 2018 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary, Short Subject — “an elegant and devastating statement of how Dreamers and our country are both being robbed of our future.” This short film has been an official selection at the 38th International Festival of Film Schools in Munich. Among other honors, the film also garnered a Best Director award for Dutta at the Silicon Beach Film Festival. In addition, it has been an official selection for the LA Shorts Awards, the Highland Park Independent Film Festival, the Top Shorts Online Film Festival, and the Austin Spotlight Film Festival. The film also won Best Audio Visual Film at the Los Angeles CineFest, and was a semi-finalist at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards.

SMC students collaborate on one short film every semester under the mentorship of Salvador Carrasco, SMC’s Head of Film Production. They shoot on locations and emulate a professional environment as closely as possible. Four of those short films were accepted into competition in the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase during the Cannes Film Festival (“Solidarity,” “Cora,” “Spaghetti Romance,” and “Life in Color”). Several others have won awards at international and domestic film festivals including the Prague Independent Film Festival, the Panavision Limelight Award at the Ojai International Film Festival, the CinemadaMare Film Festival, and many more. The SMC Film Production program has also received a $30,000 fellowship grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which produces the star-studded Golden Globe Awards, and pro-bono camera/lens packages from Keslow Camera.

For more information on SMC’s film production program, check out their website: or email SMC’s award-winning film production program offers an Associate Degree and Certificate of Achievement in Film Production. Many student films are also on YouTube under the “Santa Monica College Film Program” channel.

Submitted by Grace Smith, Santa Monica College Public Information Officer


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