Local Professor Selected for Prestigious Talent Development Program

Professor Michael Curtis Johnson                           

FLORENCE — University of North Alabama Cinematic Arts assistant professor Michael Curtis Johnson has been selected for the prestigious 2019 Berlinale Talents development program that takes place at the Berlin International Film Festival Feb. 9-14, 2019. He is one of 250 emerging international filmmakers from 77 countries selected from more than 3,400 applications.

Berlinale Talents runs for six days during the festival, offering workshops, project labs, talks and screenings for its participants. The program is designed for filmmakers with experience rather than those at the beginning of their careers, and it provides a crucial opportunity for networking.

“I’m excited to meet new and interesting artists working in film,” Johnson said. “Berlinale Talents is a great opportunity to engage other independent filmmakers from across the globe.”

Johnson’s first film “Hunky Dory” premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2016, where it won a jury award. It went on to win top prizes at the Atlanta Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, and American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland. His follow-up film “Savage Youth” was developed at the Venice Film Festival’s Biennale College Cinema Program. It premiered at the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival and will be released by motion picture distributor The Orchard this April.

In a recent interview with the industry trade publication Variety, Berlinale Talents program manager Florian Weghorn said in the selection process, the Berlinale Talents looks for “resonance” and “relevance” in applications, taking into consideration the impact a filmmaker might have made in his or her local community, and how closely connected to their work they are.

Johnson has been a faculty member in the UNA Department of Communications since January 2017. The Cinematic Arts program supports a rich diversity of creative and technical pursuits in digital film production. It features professional digital film equipment and facilities to train students in modern industry practices. The program boasts award-winning faculty with extensive industry experience who directly mentor the development of each student’s distinct creative voice. Its alumni have pursued careers throughout the country.

“Florence is a perfect place to make films, and UNA is an incredible place to study narrative filmmaking,” said Johnson. “I think my experience at the Berlinale Talents will benefit them as much as myself. I’m inspired by the creative talents of my students. I hope I can bring back some knowledge and insight into the filmmaking process that they can use for the rest of their careers.” – Keeping You Informed

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