Los Angeles — NUI Galway has raised more than $1.2 million towards the further development of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media. The fundraising culminates in the Huston Gala, a black-tie event to be held today (Friday) at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. The Gala follows a conferring ceremony at which honorary degrees will be conferred upon actress, Anjelica Huston, broadcaster, Merv Griffin and author Ray Bradbury, all of whom have strong west of Ireland connections. This event marks the first time that NUI Galway has held an honorary degree conferment outside of Ireland.
The Honorary Conferring and the Huston Gala are the centrepiece of a programme of business, cultural and academic events during the first week of May to mark the continued growth and influence of the Huston School. The honorary degrees will be conferred by the Chancellor of the NUI, Dr Garret FitzGerald. The honorary graduates chosen all have strong Irish roots and are renowned for their significant contribution to social, cultural and artistic development of both Ireland and the U.S. Celebrities from the world of stage and screen will attend the Honorary Conferring ceremony and Huston Gala. Gráinne Seoige, Sky News Ireland and NUI Galway graduate, will present the Gala programme.
The Huston School of Film & Digital Media, launched in Los Angeles in 2003, is the first dedicated school of film and digital media to be located on campus at an Irish university. NUI Galway will use the recently raised funds, which have been secured through private donors, to further develop the ongoing programmes at the School including an ambitious programme of invited residencies. These would bring students into direct contact with a stimulating range of Irish and international film artists.
NUI Galway President, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh said, "We are very proud to honour these individuals who have made significant artistic and humanitarian contributions, and who have achieved fame the world over. With this honour, we pay tribute to the great tradition of the creative arts at the heart of Los Angeles. And we share in that heritage by awarding them the highest honour that the University can bestow, thereby associating their names forever with National University of Ireland, Galway and the Huston School.
"We are fortunate at NUI Galway to have created a haven where we can nurture and develop the talents of individuals interested in pursing a career in film. The Huston School represents a bold and unprecedented move forward for Irish filmmakers and cinematic traditions, for all those who dream of telling their stories in fresh and compelling ways."
Director of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media Rod Stoneman says, "The Huston School of Film and Digital Media is developing a new breed of Irish film makers. We are giving these individuals the opportunity to develop their raw talent in order to pursue a career in the film industry. We hope that the School can help filmmakers react critically and constructively to the changes which are taking place in film. It offers a wide-ranging exposition of the full range of international filmmaking and allows course participants to develop their own distinctive voices. With new courses coming on stream, we hope to continue to challenge and develop talented students in the future."
Among the courses provided in the Huston School are a Masters programme in Screenwriting and a Masters in Film Studies, now in their second year, along with a Higher Diploma in Arts Policy and Practice. The School plans to start an innovative Masters in Public Advocacy and Activism in 2006. This will be an advanced course for people working in international and local advocacy, including the fields of community and environmental rights, among others. Also in 2006 the School will add a Masters in Production and Direction to its portfolio, with teams from these two courses working together to produce short films on social issues.
Funds raised through the Gala from donors throughout Ireland and the US will be spread out over the next five years, providing considerable capital and revenue funding for the School as it initiates new courses in production and direction.
The LA programme of events includes an illustrated lecture on 'James Joyce's "The Dead" and Cinema', by Professor Kevin Barry, Department of English, NUI Galway; and a screening of 'The Abyss' (1910) with original score performed live by ConTempo, NUI Galway's Ensemble in Residence. To further support its significant numbers of alumni located in North America, NUI Galway will also host an alumni brunch, the day following the Gala.
For further information on the NUI Galway Huston Gala visit www.hustongala.com.