SMC student film wins Cannes Award

From Lookout employees

November 23, 2021 – A short film by film student Niccolo Rolim from Santa Monica College (SMC) has won a top award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, school officials said.

“Broken Layers”, written and directed by Rolim, was named “Best Student Film” at The 24th American Pavilion Emerging Student Showcase, which ran virtually from November 14th to 16th.

Still from the SMC student film “Broken Layers” (Courtesy SMC Film Production Program)

The film about a half-Latina, half-Arab US Navy coping with the aftermath of the Iraq war was the sixth entry in the film program in the pavilion and the first to take home the main prize.

“I was deeply honored to hear that Broken Layers has received such a prestigious award,” said Rolim.

“It gives me great pleasure to know that the tremendous efforts of everyone involved in the production of the film are being significantly rewarded.”

The film is a “humanistic representation” of the war and its consequences, as she experienced Rosa, who deals with her mixed migration background, said Rolim.

It is also an exploration of “how the children of immigrants reconcile their ancestral heritage with the prevailing culture of their adopted country,” said the filmmaker.

Salvador Carrasco, director of the film production department at SMC, called “Broken Layers” the “included example” of the films produced by the program.

The films, according to Carrasco, “have something meaningful to say about the complex world we live in, and because of the diversity and richness of our students’ life experiences, their artistic voices come across in believable, powerful and enduring ways.”

He added, “What feels great about external recognition is that it validates the work of our students in a fair and objective manner.”

SMC was the only community college and one of seven US film schools represented in this year’s Emerging Student Showcase.

The other universities whose films were featured were USC (including a film by SMC alum Kevin Maxwell), Florida State University, George Washington University, NY Film Academy, and the School of Visual Arts.

The other SMC shorts that competed at the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase are “Cora” directed by Maxwell, “Solidarity” directed by Dustin Brown, “Spaghetti Romance” directed by Carrie Finn, “Life in Color ”directed by Bishal Dutta and“ The Trial ”directed by Daniel Despart.

Several films that were screened in the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase were shortlisted for Oscar nominations.

For more information on the American Pavilion in Cannes, please visit

SMC offers an Associate of Science degree and a Certificate of Achievement in Film Production. To learn more, visit or email [email protected].

The film program and the resulting films can be seen on the YouTube channel of the “Santa Monica College Film Program”.

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