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Staller Center for the Arts

Stony Brook University Symphony Orchestra
Free event to highlight kid compositions and musical surprises

By Melissa Arnold

Music has a way of moving us both physically and emotionally. Regardless of culture, language or age, the right song can make just about anyone smile.

For more than 20 years, the Stony Brook University Symphony Orchestra, an all-student ensemble featuring undergraduate and graduate music majors as well as qualified non-music majors, has put on a special Family Orchestra Concert, aiming to instill an excitement for music in children while bringing generations together. The free event returns to the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University on Tuesday, Feb. 28. 

Featured soloist violinist Elvina Liu will perform the opening movement of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4.

Conductor Susan Deaver works hard each year to dream up a fun and creative theme for the performance. Some are obvious — recent concerts have focused on contrasts or weather, to name a few — but others are more subtle.

This year’s theme, “Musical Surprises,” will challenge the audience to listen for something unexpected in each piece.

“Everybody likes surprises, right?” joked Deaver, who’s been with the university since 2000. “There are a few ways we’ve included surprises in this show. For example, we have two [portions] from Sir Edward Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations,’ which offer surprising changes in mood and tempo. There’s also ‘Thunder and Lightning’ [by Johann Strauss II], which reflects the surprise of being caught in a sudden thunderstorm.”

The concert includes both recognizable and lesser-known pieces, but the majority are short to provide as much variety as possible. And the program is just an hour long, helping to keep the littlest concertgoers happy while getting everyone home at a decent time. It is a school night, after all.

A surprising new addition to the program this year are mini-melodies composed by young orchestra students in the community.

Elementary school musicians from the Hauppauge Public School District have attended the concert for the past several years as a nighttime field trip. Interest in the concert continues to grow, and this year, Deaver approached music teacher Timerie Gatto with an exciting idea.

“There are three elementary schools in Hauppauge, and each one has an orchestra. We started with each child bringing one parent to the concert, so that they could all see what a future in music can look like if they work at it. Now we are also involving younger siblings,” Gatto said. 

“Susan Deaver is fantastic, she interacts with the audience and does whatever she can to help the kids develop a greater appreciation for music. This year, she asked if my students would make up melodies for the orchestra to play!”

With the help of classroom iPads, students were able to compose, hear and perform their own one-line melodies.

“It’s been an impressive experience for me, watching them develop their own titles and musical ideas. Some kids even put groups of notes into chords and developed more complex syncopated rhythms,” Gatto said.

The orchestra is comprised of about 75 university students from diverse backgrounds and fields of study. Among them is 20-year-old Elvina Liu, a senior music major from Auckland, New Zealand. Liu is also the orchestra’s concertmistress — a lead violinist who serves as liaison between the orchestra and conductor.

Liu will perform a solo from Mozart’s “Concerto No. 4 in D Major,” which she said can be surprising in its own way.

“I think classical works, such as this Mozart concerto, are commonly perceived as pieces that don’t allow for a lot of freedom in interpretation. A lot of teachers and musicians believe that there are certain elements that have one “correct” way of being played, which is a pretty outdated way of tackling these pieces in my opinion,” Liu explained. “I do make a great effort to respect Mozart’s writing and stylistic ideas, though I admit that I enjoy testing the limits and boundaries when I play. Sometimes I surprise myself in the moment as well!”

Liu and Gatto agreed that music provides children opportunities for development, self-expression and community in a way little else can.

“Music is one of those things where it doesn’t matter how bright, strong or fast you are. It’s accessible to all kinds of people regardless of their ability, and it offers the chance to connect with others in a nonverbal way,” Gatto said.

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook will host the annual Stony Brook Family Orchestra Concert on the Main Stage on Tuesday, Feb. 28  from 7:30 to 8:30  p.m. Admission is free and tickets are not required. Children of all ages are welcome. For more information, call 631-632-7330 or visit at www.stonybrook.edu/music.

From left, principal dancers Maya Butkevich as Sugar Plum and Madeleine Martufi as Clara in a scene from the show.

The Seiskaya Ballet’s The Nutcracker, a perennial holiday favorite on Long Island, returns to Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts Main Stage, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook for a five-performance run from Dec. 17 to 19. This classical ballet rendition has earned praise from critics and audiences alike. 

 Hailed as Long Island’s most lavish “Nutcracker,” the Seiskaya Ballet production of the classic holiday ballet is truly an international collaboration beginning with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s most famous score. Sets and several costumes were designed by Poland’s Margaret Piotrowska whose highly respected work in Polish television and stage productions has garnered wide praise. 

Directed by founder Joseph Forbes, scenery was executed by Scenic Art Studios which has been credited with painting over 300 Broadway shows. The imaginative and unusual sculptures utilized in the Seiskaya Ballet’s production were the brainchild of creative artist Matt Targon. Choreographed by celebrated Russian-born Valia Seiskaya, this acclaimed production is imbued with bravura dancing, energy and endearing charisma.

The cast will be led by leading dancer of Orlando’s United Ballet Theatre and Butler University graduate standout, guest artist, Max Lippman (Cavalier) and Seiskaya Ballet’s award winning principal dancers Maya Butkevich, Vivian Ye and Madeleine Martufi plus returning principal dancers Brianna Jimenez, Diana Atoian and Eva Pyrros.

Performances will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Monday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $40 for adults, $34 children and seniors. To order, call 631-632-ARTS (2787) or visit www.nutcrackerballet.com. 

Port Jefferson School District students with violinist Caroline Campbell (center), Port Jefferson orchestra teacher Vanessa Salzman (left) and Paul Newland, outreach director at Stony Brook University (right). Photo courtesy PJSD

In a partnership with Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, Port Jefferson music students experienced a nearly sold-out performance by renowned violinist Caroline Campbell.

Accompanied by Port Jefferson orchestra teacher Vanessa Salzman, the close-to-home musical collaboration engages students with innovative performances, as this concert highlighted. “She is quite a violin superstar, so this was a very special event for us,” Salzman said. 

Campbell, along with pianist Carlos Avila, was an engaging presence on stage and had the audience enthralled with her spectacular performance of virtuoso violin showpieces, from Hollywood film melodies to the music of Sting.

Port Jefferson orchestra students and their families are invited to attend concerts each year at the university, arranged by Salzman and Paul Newland, outreach director at Stony Brook University. Tickets are provided courtesy of Staller Center Outreach Endowment.

“We are extremely grateful to Mr. Newland and the director of The Staller Center, Mr. Alan Inkles, for providing our student musicians this incredible opportunity,” Salzman said, adding, “We were most appreciative of the time [Campbell] took following the performance to interact with our students and share inspiration to continue pursuing their musical journeys.”

The Staller Center’s Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery recently opened a new exhibition entitled Revisiting 5+1, developed in conjunction with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s current feature exhibition, Frank Bowling’s Americas.

Examining a critical moment at the junction of abstract art, racial and gender politics, and student activism at Stony Brook University, Revisiting 5+1 is a reflection on the historic 1969 exhibition of abstract art 5+1, presenting works by the original artists, alongside a new selection of major works by Black women working in abstraction.

Revisiting 5+1 features work by the six artists in the 1969 exhibition (curated by and including artist Frank Bowling) each of whom created vivid experimental abstract paintings and sculptures. Alongside Bowling, the show presents major work by Melvin Edwards, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Al Loving, Jack Whitten, and William T. Williams, showcasing their early practices of the 1960s and ‘70s. In collaboration with Distinguished Professor of Art Howardena Pindell, Revisiting 5+1 adds a related yet distinct group of six Black women artists, who were also trailblazers in abstraction. Alongside Pindell, the exhibition features works by Vivian Browne, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas, and Mildred Thompson, including a never before shown 1971 film by Saar.

Photographs of the 1969 exhibition by Adger Cowans and Tina Tranter and original archival research present new findings on 5+1, while university records and photographs provide contextual history of the concurrent Black Student Movement taking place on campus. The 1969 exhibition coincided with the first semester of courses in a new Black Studies Program, created in response to student activism.

Revisiting 5+1 provides new insight into the significance of the dynamic university context, demonstrating the important history of university-based exhibitions organized by Black artists. At a time when Black artists working in abstraction encountered barriers in both the White mainstream art world, which valued works in abstraction but not those by Black artists, and the Black Arts Movement, which rejected abstract art as apolitical, university galleries provided a unique platform outside the confines of the mainstream art world for engaging with ongoing debates around the relation between art and racial politics.

The accompanying catalog includes archival photographs of 5+1 by Adger Cowans and from the Frank Bowling Archive, four scholarly essays, and profiles of artists included in the exhibition, an interview with Howardena Pindell, as well as a tribute to Pindell’s achievements by Lowery Stokes Sims.

This exhibition honors Howardena Pindell’s four decades of working with art students at Stony Brook University on the occasion of her retirement from teaching. The artistic excellence and social activism that mark her own career have also informed her teaching, setting an example for students and faculty alike. Colleague Katy Siegel says of Pindell’s tenure, “The university has been extraordinarily fortunate to have Howardena’s brilliant presence over the years; she has brought in peers including Maren Hassinger and Kay WalkingStick, and taught generations of younger artists like Athena LaTocha with extraordinary generosity.” After the current academic year, Pindell will become a Toll Professor, leaving full-time teaching but remaining a student mentor.

The original 5+1 artists include Frank Bowling, Melvin Edwards, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Al Loving, Jack Whitten, and William T. Williams. Revisiting 5+1 also presents the work of Vivian Browne, Adger Cowans, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Howardena Pindell, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas, and Mildred Thompson.

Revisiting 5+1 is curated by Stony Brook University Art History PhD candidates Elise Armani, Amy Kahng, and Gabriella Shypula in consultation with Distinguished Professor of Art Howardena Pindell and under the guidance of Katy Siegel, Distinguished Professor and Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Endowed Chair in Modern American Art, and Karen Levitov, Director and Curator of the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery. The exhibition is supported by a grant from Stony Brook University’s Office of the President. Additional support is provided by a Humanities New York grant. A generous donation is provided by Hauser & Wirth Gallery, with additional funding from Garth Greenan Gallery, New York. Support is also provided by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Institute of Stony Brook, Art Department, and Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery’s 2022–2023 schedule is supported by a generous grant from the Paul W. Zuccaire Foundation.

Revisiting 5+1 is presented in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in conjunction with the exhibition Frank Bowling’s Americas, on view at the MFA Boston from October 22, 2022 – April 9, 2023, and traveling to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from May 13 – September 10, 2023. A digital component and display case are presented in collaboration with the MFA Boston and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Please check back for the digital component.

Hours: Monday-Friday 12-4pm and evenings of Staller Center performances and films. Email [email protected]stonybrook.edu to schedule a visit outside of regular hours.

For further information, please call the Zuccaire Gallery at (631) 632-7240 or email [email protected]stonybrook.edu. The Gallery website is: http://ZuccaireGallery.stonybrook.edu. Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ZuccaireGallery.

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook welcomes the Peking Acrobats featuring The Shanghai Circus on the Main Stage on Friday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. Combining time-honored Chinese music and groundbreaking special effects to create an environment that mirrors the festive pageantry of a Chinese Carnival, The Peking Acrobats are set to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime evening of exuberant entertainment. Fun for the whole family! Tickets range from $39 to $68. To order, call 632-2787 or visit www.stallercenter.com.


“If daring and dexterity turn you on, this is a show that will probably twist you around in your seat. It’s amazing and exciting!”

~ New York Post
“All 26 members of this troupe are amazing athletes with grace and charisma in addition to their razor-sharp precision-everything entertainment should be!”

~ Dance Insider
“Amazing! Zounds! The vocabulary of exclamation seeks expression as the medium of awed and surprised reaction to the wondrous feats of THE PEKING ACROBATS! In their graceful efforts, these brightly costumed tumblers, acrobats, cyclists, jugglers, and clever clowns provide 90 minutes of family fun that infuses springtime in New York with an extra measure of joy.”

~ New York Times
“Tumblers, contortionists, jugglers…OH MY! The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra wrapped up its Pops series with a show of dazzling athleticism and jaw-dropping beauty Friday night, courtesy of world-renowned PEKING ACROBATS! ”

~ Winnipeg Free Press, Canada
“…At no time have we seen anything like the Peking Acrobats. Feats of clowning, dexterity, grace, strength and coordination rippled from the stage in a series of pleasurable waves. One was left waterlogged in wonder.”

~ Chicago Tribune
“…’A’ is for acrobats and astounding, amusing, audacious and accomplished, accurate and attractive and admirable, all of which describe, though not completely, The Peking Acrobats.”

~ Variety
“…Nearly everything The Peking Acrobats did last night was amazing – and stunning and breathtaking and WOW!”

~ Seattle Times
“…The Peking Acrobats regularly passed from the seemingly impossible to the virtually unbelievable.”

~ Los Angeles Times

Kevin James. Photo from Staller Center

UPDATE: January 27 show sold out! Second show added on January 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets will go on sale for the second show on Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. 

It’s official! Kevin James is headed to Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts’ Main Stage for an evening of comedy on January 27, 2023 at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale on Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. For one night only, the King of Long Island comes home in his first Staller Center appearance, blocks away from the streets that built him

“We’re thrilled to bring Kevin James to Staller Center,” says Alan Inkles, Director of the Staller Center, “I’ve been looking forward to hosting him here in his hometown for some time now, and I know this will be a really special show for our audience.”

Since performing his first Stand-up set at Long Island’s East Side Comedy Club in 1989, Kevin James has established himself as a powerhouse actor, writer, and comedian. Discovered at the 1996 Montreal Comedy Festival, he signed a deal with Paramount to develop his own sitcom, The King of Queens. Earning an Emmy nomination for his role, James starred in all nine seasons of the smash hit show, which continues to air daily in syndication. Moving from television to film, James’ iconic roles in the films Hitch, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and Grown Ups catapulted him into stardom. He continues to dominate all of these mediums, having starred in the sitcoms Kevin Can Wait and The Crew and the new films Hubie Halloween, Home Team, and Becky, all while lending his voice to the Hotel Transylvania films.

Ranked as one of the 100 greatest stand-ups by Comedy Central, his lauded specials Sweat The Small Stuff and Never Don’t Give Up have solidified James as one of the top comics of his generation. Now, James brings that incisive, irreverent stand-up to the Main Stage in an all-out hilarious evening. Returning to his Stony Brook roots, James will have audiences doubled over in laughter as he comes home- and brings his biting, uproarious wit with him.

Tickets will be available at stallercenter.com on September 15th at 10am.

For more information, call 631-632-2787 or visit www.stallercenter.com.

The 27th annual Stony Brook Film Festival, presented by Island Federal Credit Union, wrapped up with a Closing Night Awards Ceremony on July 30.  The evening recognized the outstanding new independent films screened at the festival, which was held at Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University from July 21 to 30. 

This year’s winners included BerenshteinJury Award for  Best Feature; ContraAudience Award for Best Feature; All That Glitters and Summer of Bees tied for the Jury Award for Best Short; Ousmane — Audience Award for Best Short; Peaceful   Opening Night Feature Award; Lost TransportClosing Night Feature Award; Lentini Opening Night Short Award; and Mila Closing Night Short Award.

In addition, Glob Lessons, directed by Nicole Rodenburg and written by Rodenburg and Colin Froeber, received The Spirit of Independent Filmmaking Award which is given every year to a filmmaker whose work exemplifies the spirit and breadth of filmmaking where the focus is on the art and most often produced with an extremely limited budget. 

This year’s Festival bestowed a special Humanitarian Award on Dr. Gabriel Sara, co-star of and consultant on the opening night feature, Peaceful. A cancer specialist at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai West, Dr. Sara helped launch The Helen Sawaya Fund, a philanthropy program whose mission is to enhance the experience of cancer patients through art and music. 

“The dignity and empathy which Dr. Sara brings to his work became the impetus for Peaceful, a film that touched us all so deeply,” said Alan Inkles, Director of the Stony Brook Film Festival. “We are proud to confer [this award] on Dr. Sara for his vital and important work in improving the lives of cancer patients.”

Highlighting the live Awards Ceremony was a presentation by the filmmakers of Red River Road, winner of the 2021 Spirit of Independent Filmmaking Award. Writer/director Paul Schuyler proudly announced that Red River Road was acquired for distribution by Gravitas Films with the help and support of the Stony Brook Film Festival.

“For over 27 years, filmmakers have continually conveyed to us that we are the most hospitable festival they’ve been to,” said Inkles. “We are able to treat our filmmakers like royalty because we have two constituents in mind when we plan our festivals — our filmmakers and our audience. With the support of Island Federal and many of our other supporters, we are proud to provide a full experience to our audience, bringing together filmmakers and cast members from all over the world to give first- hand accounts of their process.”

During the Festival, the Staller Center announced its Fall 2022 Live Performing Arts season which kicks off on Sept. 23 and includes performances by Michael Feinstein, Katherine McPhee and David Foster, and Vic DiBitetto, among others. Visit www.stallercenter.com for the entire Fall season line-up.

Anthony Famulari in a scene from The Switcheroo. Photo courtesy of Staller Center
Fest to include indie weekend, female directors panel, SBU grads

By Melissa Arnold

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts turns into a movie lover’s mecca when new independent films screen at the Stony Brook Film Festival from Thursday, July 21 to Saturday, July 30. The popular event pairs memorable short films with an array of features you won’t see anywhere else, making it a favorite of moviegoers and filmmakers alike.

Now in its 27th year, the festival will celebrate its return to a fully live experience after some creative adjustments during the pandemic. Over the course of nine days, 38 films from 27 countries will be screened on evenings and weekends. But deciding what to show is no easy task.

More than a thousand films are sent to festival director Alan Inkles each year, he said. With the help of co-director Kent Marks, they go through an intense process of screening, debating, and cutting before the final selections are made.

The resulting collection showcases both shorts and feature-length films in all kinds of styles and genres. Among them is a short sci-fi comedy called The Switcheroo, directed by brothers and Stony Brook natives Ryan and Anthony Famulari. The film will be screened on Sunday, July 24 at 7 p.m. 

“I try not to read anything about a film before I watch it — I owe it to our viewers to not favor anyone, so I’m not going to pick a film just because it’s local. We choose a film because it’s enjoyable,” Inkles explained. “That said, I love that we’ve been able to include Switcheroo and have Long Island represented. Comedy is hard to do, especially for young filmmakers, but this story is so charming, funny, and just really nailed it. And when I read that the brothers were from Stony Brook, I thought it was great.”

The Switcheroo stars Anthony Famulari playing both a heartbroken scientist and his charismatic clone. The clone tries to help his creator land a date, which reveals some surprising and funny secrets.

Cloning was the perfect concept to explore for the brothers, who were living together during the worst of the pandemic and looking for something fun to do.  

“The idea was more of a necessity, considering we didn’t have a crew or a large budget,” said Anthony, 33. “But we wanted to make something that was still enjoyable and interesting. We both gravitate to stories with sci-fi elements, and it was a great solution to the creative challenges of the time.”

The brothers grew up with their own interests, but shared a deep love of movies and storytelling. Both went on to major in journalism at Stony Brook University. While there, Ryan played football and Anthony dove into theater. They also worked together conducting and filming interviews on campus, and wrote film scripts in their spare time.

“Anthony was always a ham, but I didn’t see him act for the first time until college. I found that he was really good at it,” recalls Ryan, 35. “This has been a passion for us for a long time. We’ll go see a movie and then get into a deep discussion about it for an hour after. Our filmmaking is like that too. We’ll wrestle over an idea, but that’s fun for us.”

These days, the Famularis are on separate coasts — Ryan went to grad school for creative writing and is currently living in New York working remotely for a Los Angeles-based animation studio, while Anthony lives in Los Angeles pursuing acting while also working for an animation studio. But they’re still writing together and looking forward to whatever comes next.

“We’re constantly bouncing ideas around, and with each one of our short films, we learn something new and continue to improve,” Anthony said. “At the end of the day, our goal is to create something enjoyable that’s worth people’s time, while pursuing our passions.”

Also of note during this year’s festival is a panel discussion on women in filmmaking, and a weekend celebrating the spirit of American-made indie films.

“We have a lot of female writers and directors represented here, and have since the festival first began,” Inkles said. “It was important for us to feature them in a special way, and provide a unique opportunity for conversation, both among the panelists and with the audience.”

The panel is an exclusive benefit open to those who purchase festival passes. A variety of options are available, including an opening weekend pass.

Many film screenings will also include a question and answer session with the filmmaker. “That’s what makes a film festival so interesting as opposed to just going to the movies — you get the chance to talk with the filmmakers directly and learn more about their process,” Inkles said.

The Stony Brook Film Festival will be held from July 21 through July 30 30 at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook. Individual tickets and premium passes are available. For the full schedule and more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.stallercenter.com or call the box office at 631-632-2787.

This article was updated July 23, 2022.

Catherine Deneuve and Benoît Magimel in a scene from Peaceful. Photo courtesy of Staller Center

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center  for the Arts turns into a movie lover’s mecca when new independent films screen at the Stony Brook Film Festival on evenings and weekends from Thursday, July 21 to Saturday, July 30. The popular festival, now in its 27th year, pairs memorable short films with an array of features you won’t see anywhere else, making it a favorite of moviegoers and filmmakers alike.

Presented by Island Federal, the 2022 Festival lineup offers 38 films from over 28 countries. The Festival kicks off with the North American premiere of Peaceful, starring Catherine Deneuve, Benoît Magimel, and Gabriel A. Sara. A life-affirming drama about acceptance and resilience, Peaceful follows Benjamin, an acting teacher with a terminal illness as he navigates his final months and days. The beating heart of the film comes from Gabriel Sara — a cancer specialist from Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan in real-life — who portrays Benjamin’s very humane specialist Dr. Eddé. Catherine Deneuve’s powerful performance as Benjamin’s mother is unforgettable.

“This year’s Festival is somewhat of a family affair, with several real-life family members making films, and members of our Stony Brook family returning,” says Festival co-programmer Kent Marks. “Our Sunday night independent feature, the very touching This is a Film About My Mother, which was shot in Ithaca, New York, stars real-life siblings Tess and Will Harrison and was written and directed by Tess.”

The theme of family continues with the mesmerizing Korean independent film, Seokkarae. Written and directed by Mike Beech, and starring his wife, Jiwon Lee, the character-driven film depicts a quiet twenty-something attempting to keep the family business going despite tough odds. Jungle is another such collaboration, written by real life partners Claudia Verena Hruschka and Kieran Wheeler, with Wheeler directing and Hruschka giving a gut-wrenching performance in this hard-hitting short from Australia. 

From Australia to Stony Brook, The Switcheroo is co-directed by Stony Brook brothers Ryan and Anthony Famulari. Made for next to nothing during COVID, this hilarious comedy has the brothers serving as the entire crew, with Anthony cast in the very funny role of a man and his clone. Two more co-directors are sisters Austin and Westin Ray with their UK-based quiet thriller Before Seven. The Ray’s, Festival alums from 2014, served as directors, writer (Westin) and composer and cinematographer (Austin). Another SBFF festival alum is John Gray, who won the audience choice award for his 2020 film Extra Innings, and is back this year with the intriguing family drama The Little Drummer Boy.

Women will take center stage at this year’s SBFF, both in front of and behind the camera. SBFF’s opening and closing night features and shorts were all helmed by female directors. In all, 17 of the Festival’s 38 films were directed by women. Two films, Kitchen Tales and Before Seven, were made with nearly all-female crews. 

The Jackie Stiles Story and Nasima are two completely different documentaries about female athletes from the middle of nowhere — a small Kansas town and a small seaside village in Bangladesh — who both beat the odds and made a huge impact in their respective sports of basketball and surfing. 

There are heroines from all walks of life, whether in the New Zealand drama The Justice of Bunny King, the Israeli epic Image of Victory, the Albanian thriller Vera Dream of the Sea, or the American indie Peace in the Valley, all of which feature knock-out performances by their lead actresses.

Reflecting on current issues, two films in the Festival, Olga and Berenshtein both take place in and around Ukraine, and both are from times when the Ukrainian people faced down an oppressive regime — whether it be from the Nazis or their own government.

Mila, a must-see short film on SBFF’s closing night, is a debut effort by writer/director Cinzia Angelini and made by 350 animators from 35 countries, who volunteered their services to help Angelini get her story made after all major studios turned it down. Inspired by events of the 1943 Trento bombing in Italy, this heart-warming story depicts a young girl who has lost everything but still clings to hope. 

The closing night feature, Lost Transport, is a powerful and deeply moving film set during the final days of World War II, uniquely told from a female perspective. When German soldiers abandon a deportation train, leaving the fate of its occupants in the hands of advancing Russian troops, three women from vastly different backgrounds, set aside their differences, working together to survive.

“The diversity of filmmakers is a hallmark of Stony Brook Film Festival, with student filmmakers, seasoned pros, and nine first-time directors represented this year,” says Festival Director Alan Inkles. “We are very excited to have filmmakers from all over the world join us in-person this year for their premiere screenings. Our audience can gather in a huge theater with Long Island’s largest screen, to see movies the way they were meant to be seen. Not only are these films not available on any streaming format, but you also get to hear directly from the filmmakers themselves, ask them a question at our live Q&A, and even vote for your favorite.”

For 27 years, the Stony Brook Film Festival has hosted 549 filmmakers from 78 different countries, featured nearly 55 World Premieres and over 75 U.S. premieres. In total, the Festival has screened almost 1100 independent films from all over the world. The Festival kicks-off with an Opening Night Party and closes with an Awards Ceremony and Closing Night Party.



Thursday, July 21 at 8 p.m.

Feature: Peaceful, France

Short: Lentini, United States


Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Olga, Switzerland, Ukraine,  France

Short: Kitchen Tales, United Kingdom


Friday, July 22 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Glob Lessons, United States

Short: Before Seven, United States


Saturday, July 23 at 4:30 p.m.

Doc Feature: The Jackie Stiles Story, U.S.


Saturday, July 23 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Contra, Germany

Short: The Little Drummer Boy, U.S.


Saturday, July 23 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Peace in the Valley, U.S.

Short: Elevate, United States


Sunday, July 24 at 4:30 p.m.

Documentary Feature: Nasima, U.S.


Sunday, July 24 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Berenshtein, Israel & Ukraine

Short: The Switcheroo, United States


Sunday, July 24 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: This is a Film About My Mother, U.S.

Short: North Star, United States


Monday, July 25 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Hit the Road, Iran

Short: Summer of Bees, Finland


Monday, July 25 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Seokkarae, Korea

Short: Saving Elodie, United Kingdom


Tuesday, July 26 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Hard Shell, Soft Shell, France

Short: Almost Winter, United States


Tuesday, July 26 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: The Justice of Bunny King, NZ

Short: The Dress, United States


Wednesday, July 27 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Image of Victory, Israel

Short: Milk, United Kingdom


Wednesday, July 27 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: The Test, France

Short: Free Fall, France


Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Haute Couture, France

Short: Jungle, Australia


Thursday, July 28 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Sons of the Sea, South Africa

Short: Ousmane, Canada


Friday, July 29 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Vera Dream of the Sea, Kosovo & Albania & Republic of Macedonia

Short: All that Glitters, United Kingdom


Friday, July 29 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Black Box, France & Belgium

Short: Aysha, Germany



Saturday, July 30 at 8 p.m.

Feature: Lost Transport, Netherlands & Luxemborg & Germany

Short: Mila, United States



10:30 p.m.

Ticket information

All screenings are held at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook in the 1,000-seat Main Stage theater. Festival goers can choose from a Gold Pass, Festival Pass, or Individual Pass. Passes start at $20. All passholders will hear from filmmakers throughout the Festival and have the opportunity to rate and vote on favorite films to help choose the winners of this year’s Festival. 

Gold Passholders receive entry to all films, VIP reserved seating, a Stony Brook Film Festival swag bag, discounts at local restaurants and businesses, access to Opening and Closing Night After Parties, filmmaker Q&A’s, and the Closing Night Awards Ceremony. Festival Passholders receive entry to all films and guaranteed seating for sold-out films, filmmaker Q&A’s, access to the Closing Night Awards Ceremony, discounts at local restaurants and businesses, voting for Audience Choice Award, and a Stony Brook Film Festival Passholder gift. For more information or to order, call 631-632-2787 or visit stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

*This article originally appeared in TBR News Media’s Summer Times supplement on June 24.

Photo from Staller Center

In their only New York appearance, 16-time Grammy award-winning musician, composer, and producer David Foster and acclaimed singer, television and Broadway star Katharine McPhee will bring their viral Instagram sensation “The Kat & Dave Show,” direct from their living room to Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts for one live show, Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

In her first appearance at the Staller Center since 2010, McPhee will perform some of her biggest songs from American Idol, Smash, and Broadway’s Waitress. ‘The Kat & Dave Show” will also showcase Foster’s hit songs created for countless music legends including Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Dolly Parton, Chicago, Hall & Oates, Gloria Estefan, and many others.

“We are thrilled to welcome back Katharine McPhee and for the first time, David Foster,” said Alan Inkles, Director of Staller Center for the Arts. ‘The Kat & Dave Show,’ their ‘quaranstream’ Instagram Live concerts, delighted legions of fans during the early days of the pandemic. The combination of these two powerhouse entertainers is sure to be a treat for our audiences.”

Tickets for “The Kat & Dave Show,” starting at $62, are on sale online at www.stallercenter.com. For a limited time, ticket buyers can receive 10% off by using code KAT10DAVE.