NEW YORK, April 9, 2007 -- “Silences,” the award-winning M.F.A. thesis film by 2006 City College graduate Octavio Warnock-Graham, won an unprecedented three awards at the student Emmy's in North Hollywood last weekend.
The 20-minute short about Mr. Warnock-Graham’s search for his racial identity, won for Best Documentary, Best Director and received The Seymour H. Bricker Humanitarian Award at the 28th College Television Awards Gala at Culver Studios in North Hollywood, Calif. The gala is hosted annually by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, the charitable arm of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which gives out the Emmy Awards.
“This is the first time in the 28-year history of the Student Emmy's that a film has won three awards. I am terribly thrilled,” said Mr. Warnock-Graham. “The film has grossly exceeded my expectations and, in a way, taken on a life of its own,”
Last October, “Silences” won the Outstanding Documentary Award at the prestigious 2006 Angelus Student Film Festival in Los Angeles. The film was also named Best Documentary in Cityvisions 2006, CCNY’s annual festival for graduate students in media arts production.
“Silences,” which was shot in Ohio and San Francisco, follows Mr. Warnock-Graham’s journey to understand his mother’s refusal to discuss the circumstances of his birth. He is the product of an interracial relationship that his family had sought to conceal. With a silent mother, Mr. Warnock-Graham travels to San Francisco with only a name and a phone number to find that one person who can complete his search for answers: his biological father.
Poignant and, yet, heart-warming, “Silences” is being considered for distribution by New Day Films, a company that caters to the education market. Also, PBS’ “P.O.V.” series, television’s longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films, has requested the documentary for consideration.
Admittedly overwhelmed by his film’s success, Mr. Warnock-Graham said the big challenge now was to build on it. “I’ve got my foot in the door and I’ve got some momentum. It’s up to me to parley the success of this film into something bigger.”
He spoke glowingly of City College’s M.F.A. in Media Arts Production program, where he studied under Professors David Davidson, an Emmy-winning documentary producer, and Andrea Weiss, a noted documentary filmmaker and non-fiction author.
“The depth of the student work coming out of City College is clearly positioning it as a prominent film program in the nation,” Mr. Warnock-Graham added.
“Silences” is just one of the recent successes by CCNY filmmakers.
Others include: “When They Could Fly” by Piotr Kajstura. MFA ’06, which won for Best Short Film and Best Overall Film at the 2007 Texas Black Film Festival and for Best Drama at the 2007 Buffalo Niagara Film Festival; “6AM” by cinematography major Carmen Vidal, a silver medal winner at the 2006 Student Academy Awards, and Sharyn Chen’s, MFA ’06, “Collision,” which in February won for Best Written film at the Magnolia Independent Film Festival in Starkville, Miss., Best Short Drama at the All-American Film Festival in Durham, N.C. and received the Audience Award at the Gasparilla Film Festival in Tampa.
Mr. Warnock-Graham, a native Ohioan, earned a B.A., with a concentration in drama studies, from SUNY Purchase in 1993 and spent 10 years working as a lighting technician/gaffer in theater and television before enrolling at CCNY. At CCNY, he carried a 3.85 G.P.A. and received grants from the National Board of Review and the Nyman Family Award.
About The City College of New York
For 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 13,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.