Cynthia Felando

Cynthia Felando

Jury Member 2024

Cynthia Felando, senior lecturer in film and media at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), will serve on the International Jury for the fourteenth edition of the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival.

Her main teaching and research interests include American film history and culture, youth culture, media, contemporary trends in international cinema, and the history-criticism of short films. It is precisely these latter that are the central theme underpinning some of her most cited and well-known publications, now among the most relevant studies among those who value the short film as a stand-alone form of cinematic narrative.

These include Discovering Short Films: The History and Style of Live-Action Fiction Shorts (2015), a book in which she reflects on both the historical and contemporary significance of the live-action short film. Since it is the oldest form of cinema and still one of the most important today, especially given the easier enjoyment offered by the Internet than in the past, she identifies its conventions by proposing its classification into two general categories of short film: classic and art.

There is no shortage among her publications of analyses of individual directorial phenomena, as in the case of Girls rule in Sofia Coppola’s Lick the Star, one of the chapters within The Bloomsbury Handbook to Sofia Coppola (2023), which represents a first comprehensive overview of the work of the famous American artist.

Like many scholars of her caliber, Cynthia Felando has also collaborated with a number of festival venues in recent years, including the Minimalen Short Film Festival in Trondheim and the Internationale Kurzfilmstage in Winterthur, where she has given a number of masterclasses, Q&A and workshops.

Such is her dedication to the world of short films that she has been appointed to the position of editor-in-chief of Short Film Studies magazine; in addition, due to her remarkable academic endeavors, she has been awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award by UCSB.

As part of the special program dedicated to the International Jury of the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, Cynthia Felando presents the film:

Exam (2019, Iran)
Director: Sonia K. Hadad
Born and raised in Iran, filmmaker Sonia K. Hadad co-wrote and directed the acclaimed award-winning short film Exam. Premiering to critical raves at the Toronto International Film Festival, Exam continued its stellar festival run with screenings and many awards at over 120 events. Exam uses the conventions of the thriller genre in the service of a harrowing and naturalistic slice-of-life story about a girl at the mercy of her drug-dealer father and her school’s stern authorities with some deft social commentary about the strict policing and control of teenaged girls.
Exam was inspired by Hadad’s own experiences with harsh high school discipline and another real-life story about a friend who ate the marijuana she was holding to subvert a random search at school. A routine morning spent cramming for an exam at breakfast is complicated for Exam’s protagonist, high schooler Sadaf, when her off-screen father directs her to make a drug delivery. After the buyer doesn’t show up on time, Sadaf rushes to school – with the drugs. Tension builds relentless when the school’s principal arrives for a random contraband search of the girls’ bags and bodies, and reaches an unnerving peak when Sadaf swallows the potentially lethal drug packet to avoid what might be the worse fate of getting caught.

Cynthia Felando