CCA Media Arts Faculty Member Cheryl Dunye's Feature Film—The Owls—to Screen at Berlin International Film Festival

Read the update to this feature.

These are the words every filmmaker hopes to receive: "It is my pleasure to invite your film to the Berlin International Film Festival." While not extended to every filmmaker, CCA Media Arts faculty member Cheryl Dunye has heard them more than once—most recently for her 2010 feature The Owls, which has been selected to screen at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival in February.

The renowned festival, also known as the Berlinale, is one of the world's leading film festivals, showcasing more than 400 films in several sections, and is a renowned media event for filmmakers. Founded in 1951, "the festival is considered the largest publicly-attended film festival worldwide . . . representing a comprehensive array of the cinematic world." Read more.

Additionally, with over 200,000 tickets sold annually to the general public, the Berlin Film Festival is not only an industry gathering for film professionals but also boasts one of the largest film festival audiences in the world, attracting a full range of film enthusiasts—from film-industry insiders to just about anyone who appreciates watching movies.

Dunye's award-winning debut feature film* The Watermelon Women (produced by Barry Swimar—Paris is Burning—and Alexandra Juhasz, 1995], described by the New York Times as "funny, adventurous, wonderful," screened at the Berlin Film Festival in 1996 where the film was awarded the festival's Teddy Award (see additional awards below). She also had her short film Greetings from Africa (distributed by Women Make Movies, 1995) screened the previous year, also in the festival's Panorama section (the category representing independent art-house productions and documentaries). Dunye is herself a native of Liberia. (Learn more about the festival's four film categories.)

The 60th Berlin International Film Festival takes place February 11–21. Over 20,000 moviegoers will participate during the Berlinale in the Panorama Audience Award that is to be presented on February 21, 2010. Read the partial confirmed lineup for the main program and Panorama section. Be sure to look for the entire festival program beginning in February 2010.

The Owls, distributed by The Film Collaborative, a nonprofit distribution service for independent filmmakers who are targeting underserved audiences, is about "two middle-aged, lesbian couples who accidentally kill a younger lesbian and hide the body, without reporting it to the authorities. Their guilt and long-kept, dark secret comes back to haunt them, as an unexpected stranger shows up in their lives, bringing tension and discord. Little do they know that this mysterious stranger has a plan which includes all four of them." (Plot summary by Candi Guterres). Film festival favorite Guinevere Turner, Deak Evgenikos, Cheryl Dunye, and Lisa Gornick star. Download the press kit.

The Owls sees Dunye's return to the ranks of such notable filmmakers as Oliver Stone, Derek Jarmen, Sally Potter, Mike Leigh, Pedro Almodóvar, John Waters, Kathryn Bigelow, Ang Lee, Todd Haynes, Marlon Riggs, Sarah Polley, Gus Van Sant, and two-time Academy Award–winners Rob Epstein (CCA's Media Arts cochair) and Jeffrey Friedman, to name just a few of the many celebrated filmmakers who've had their films screened at this prestigious film festival.

Read the 60th Berlinale: First Films in the Panorama Section press release.

About Cheryl Dunye
Dunye has served on the boards of Outfest: The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival(the oldest continuous film festival in Los Angeles); the Directors Guild of America (DGA); and IFP(the nation's oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers). She has been honored with a Community Vision Award from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), awarded a Creative Excellence Award from Women in Film and Television, received a Fusion Award from Outfest, and was selected as one of POWER UP's 2008 Top-10 Powerful Women In Showbiz.

Read an interview with Cheryl Dunye about her work.

Awards for The Watermelon Women:

Teddy Award: Berlin International Film Festival, 1996
Audience Award: Cretiel International Festival of Women's Cinema, 1996
Audience Award: Torino International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, 1996
Audience Award: Los Angeles OUTFEST, 1996
Frameline Completion Grant: Frameline, 1995 (producers of the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival)
Media Production Award: National Endowment of the Arts, 1995
Vito Award: New York International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, 1995