A Film Festival and a Life Celebrated

The Tenth Annual Bronx Community College Film & Video Festival was the scene of a first this year, as the initial awards created in memory of a LaGuardia Community College professor were presented to four student filmmakers.

The BCC Media Technology Program established the Peter J. Rondinone Memorial Awards after the LaGuardia professor died last November at age 48. The Media Technology program’s director is Professor Jeffrey Wisotsky, one of Rondinone’s City College classmates. The awards recognize students who have “demonstrated an ability to make a positive difference in the College and in their community.”

This year’s invitation-only festival, held at the Clearview 59th Street Cinema in Manhattan, was sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Co. A larger festival, with screenings open to the public, will take place on the BCC campus in the fall.

Rondinone’s first teaching assignment was at BCC. He went on to serve as professor of English and director of the journalism program at LaGuardia from 1986 until his death. His screenplay, “Yo-Yo Land,” written with Wisotsky, was a 1996 finalist in the Sundance Screenwriters Development Award competition, and a finalist in Holly-wood’s 1997 Beigel Screenwriting Contest.

Rondinone grew up in the South Bronx, and turned his street experiences into literature, producing a series of short stories that were published, to critical praise, by St. Martin’s Press/Picador under the title “The Digital Hood.” His mentor at CCNY was the author Donald Barthelme.

Rondinone once recalled asking Barthelme, “How can I be like you? He answered my question with a question: ‘How many words do you think I put into print before I sold my first short story?’ ” The answer was many thousands.

The BCC Media Technology Program offers student filmmakers practical hands-on skills taught by experienced professionals in media production and management.

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