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SUNY Niagara Film & Animation Festival

SUNY Niagara Film & Animation Festival 2024

Saturday, May 4, 2024 | 11:00AM – 5:00PM

The SUNY Niagara Film & Animation Festival is an annual event, held each spring on the college’s Sanborn campus. The festival brings together filmmakers and animation artists from all over Western New York and beyond. Topping the SUNY Niagara Film & Animation Festival is an international film competition, in which awards are given to filmmakers in a variety of categories. A $200 prize is awarded to the best films in the following categories: Drama, Comedy, Animation, Documentary, Music Video, Horror, and Experimental. Judges for the contest include filmmakers, animators, actors, musicians, and other professionals in the field. The event is sponsored by SUNY Niagara’s Digital Media Department, Animation Department, and the SUNY Niagara Digital Filmmakers Club, and the college’s Office of Student Life. Three additional $100 prizes are awarded to local filmmakers in the “Best of 716” category: Best High School Student Film, Best College Student Film, and Best of the Festival. And two $2,000 scholarships for best WNY High School Student Film & Animation.

Film submissions are due by April 1, 2024

Submit Film

Free Workshops

Photo of 2024 Film Festival Workshop Instructors: Greg Lamberson, Bob Bozek, Maria Friend and Jay Vinitsky
  • How to Write and Produce an Indie Feature – Greg Lamberson
  • Inside Film Post-Production – Jay Vinitsky
  • Dark Fantasy, Gore, and More – Maria Friend
  • Star Wars Improv – Bob Bozek

Seating for each workshop is limited to the first 20 to enroll.

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Special Early Bird Screening with Director Chad Ridgely

9:00 AM – SUNY Niagara Fine Arts Auditorium

Self Isolated Screening Photograph of a women with a baseball bat

Join film director Chad Ridgely as he provides a personal screening of his award-winning horror thriller “Self Isolated” (2021). After the screening there will be time for audience Q&A and meeting the director.  

“Self Isolated” is a slow burn horror thriller about a woman that wakes up one morning and finds herself seemingly alone in the world. Where is everyone? Where is her husband? And what has happened to the world around her? Through a series of flashback memories, the woman starts to piece together what’s really going on. And while all of that is happening, the woman also has to deal with a potentially dangerous outside force. It’s a fascinating movie because you’re never quite sure if you should trust the woman’s memories or what seems to be happening to her in the “real” world.

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Watch the trailer

The 2024 Festival

Keynote Speaker – Chad Ridgely

Chad Ridgely is a director, producer, actor, writer, and stand-up comedian. Founder of Full Auto Films, he is a former police officer and celebrity bodyguard. A regular performer on the national comedy circuit, Ridgely studied at The Groundlings Theatre, the improvisational company that spawned the careers of Will Ferrell, Phil Hartman, and Melissa McCarthy.

Best known by horror fans for writing, starring, and producing the award-winning comedy horror films Massacre on Aisle 12 and 6:66 PM, Ridgely first gained attention in the comedy arena creating and starring in the FOX produced sketch-comedy series, The Chad Ridgely Show. He went on to garner millions of views creating digital comedy content and comedy music videos. Ridgely has appeared in numerous film and television projects, including Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Red Letters, Transmorphers: Mech Beasts, Weedjies: Halloweed Night and the animated feature The Trouble with Terkel.  Ridgely most recently wrote, produced and directed the award-winning horror thriller Self Isolated and the upcoming Murder Van.
Ridgely is originally from Washington, D.C., and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Special Guest – Rick Catizone

Special guest at this year’s festival is Rick Catizone, an animator and special effects artist with over 50 years’ experience in the movie industry. His feature film animation credits include Creepshow, Creepshow 2, Evil Dead 2, Dungeons and Dragons, and the original Night of the Living Dead, directed by George Romero. He also did the animation for Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream video, which won a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video and also the MTV Music Video Award for best male video. His special effects work can be seen in such films as Dark Half, Evil Dead 2, Monkeyshines, and Creepshow. Catizone taught art and animation courses for 25 years at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, including life drawing, animal anatomy (sculpture), beginning and advanced traditional animation courses, computer modeling, and camera and lighting.

2024 WNY Filmmaker of the Year – Ken Cosentino

Ken Cosentino is an award-winning storyteller, artist and filmmaker from Niagara Falls, NY. At age 6, Ken won the Roswell Institute art competition with an illustrative anti-smoking ad. He began his journey as a filmmaker at 11 years old, making stop-motion videos and backyard shorts with his brothers. At age 12, one of his drawings was exhibited at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY. At age 13 he started dabbling with special-effects makeup. When he was 15, Ken was hired for his first gig on a television commercial, which began his apprenticeship with producer and robotics expert Fred Calandrelli. When he was 18, Ken made his first feature film,  which premiered in a small festival at the historic Laemmle Theater on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, CA. Since then, Ken has written, directed, shot, and edited five feature films. He has produced seven features and he is working on his eighth. His movies have played in theaters in several major US cities and abroad; on VOD platforms such as Redbox; on National Primetime TV, and in every big box store including Walmart and Target. As a filmmaker, Ken has been featured in GQ Magazine, SyFy Magazine, and on the covers of Scream and The Hype. In 2009, Ken co-founded Little Sicily Productions with partner James Ventry. In 2013, he co-founded White Lion Studios, LLC where he is CEO. He currently is focused on screenwriting and producing, and spending time with his family. From time to time, he works for several major studios and networks, with a focus on Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles. Ken is recognized as one of the founding members of the emerging Buffalo-Niagara Film industry.

2024 Film & Animation Festival Winners

First Prize – Animation
“The Monster”
Directed by Ruby Yang & Bomin Kim, Republic of Korea

First Prize – Comedy
“Home Policies”
Directed by Nick Smith, Fredonia, NY, USA

First Prize – Documentary
“Two Wars: The Road to Integration”
Directed by Steven Tedesco & Sean Donovan, Buffalo, NY, USA

“You’re NOT for ART!”
Directed by Lukia Costello, Buffalo, NY, USA

First Prize – Drama
“Memories Withered”
Directed by Rafael DeMoura, Marlton, NJ, USA

First Prize – Experimental
Directed by Martin Gerigk, Germany

First Prize – Horror
“Die Dame”
Directed by Taylor Martin, Tonawanda, NY, USA

First Prize – Music Video
“The Hamiltones – Entr’acte to The Hamiltones in Space”
Directed by John E. Toohill & Nicholas Reynolds, San Francisco, CA, USA

Best College Student Film
“He Has to Come Home”
Directed by Apollo Shepherd, Mobile, AL, USA

716 – People’s Choice Award
“Katie’s Ghost”
Directed by Richard Fysh, Niagara Falls, NY, USA

2024 WNY Filmmaker of the Year
Ken Cosentino Niagara Falls, NY, USA

2023 Film & Animation Festival Winners

First Prize – Animation
“The Lost Courier”
Directed by Ma Zidong, China

First Prize – Comedy
“A Vegan Love Story”
Directed by Daniela Di Salvo, Canada

First Prize – Documentary
“Jackass Love”
Directed by Michele DeLuca, USA

First Prize – Drama
Directed by Taylor Martin, USA

First Prize – Experimental
“Harlem Nights”
Directed by Kaitlyn Lowe, USA

First Prize – Horror
“VRDLK: Family of Vurdulak”
Directed by Sam Chou, Canada

First Prize – Music Video
“Exotic Dimensions: A Maiden not Made of Clay”
Directed by Kohei Takeda, USA

716 – Best College Student Film
“I Had a Strange Dream Last Night”
Directed by Mira Haley Steuer, Clarence, NY

716 – Best High School Student Film
“Lost and Never Found”
Directed by Nicholas Joseph Buccarelli, Lockport, NY

716 – People’s Choice Award
“Lost and Never Found”
Directed by Nicholas Joseph Buccarelli, Lockport, NY

2023 WNY Filmmaker of the Year
Chris Cosgrave, Buffalo, NY

2022 Film & Animation Festival Winners

First Prize – Animation
“Red Fire,”
Directed by Mona A. Shahi
Tehran, Iran

First Prize – Comedy
Directed by Kevin Ralston
Long Island City, NY

First Prize – Documentary
“Visiting Ben Shemen,”
Directed by Miriam Harris
Aukland, New Zealand

First Prize – Drama
“Mr. Sisyphus,”
Directed by Jedi Joongoo Kang
Buffalo, NY

First Prize – Experimental
“The Long Goodbye,”
Directed by Heidi Neff
Bel Air, MD

First Prize – Horror
“Halloween: A Short Dance Film,”
Directed by Malik Thompson
Burlington, NJ

First Prize – Music Video
“Oyasumi – Lullaby of Flames,”
Directed by Arisa Wakami
Tokyo, Japan

Best College Student Film
“Mr. Sisyphus,”
Directed by Jedi Joongoo Kang
Buffalo, NY

716 – People’s Choice Award
Directed by Richard Fysh
Niagara Falls, NY

2022 WNY Filmmaker of the Year
Sam Qualiana

2021 Film & Animation Festival Winners

First Prize – Animation
Directed by Alexander Bubnov

First Prize – Music Video
Directed by Pierre Ponchant

First Prize – Experimental
Directed by Kilo Watts, The Drone
United States

First Prize – Comedy
“Tino’s Pizza – New Crap”
Directed by Benoit Créac’h & Julia Gaudard

First Prize – Drama
“Circle in the Woods”
Directed by Rebecca Snowden
United States

First Prize – Horror
Directed by Piero Cannata

First Prize – Documentary
Directed by Wojciech Lorenc
United States

716 Awards

Best Western New York High School Student Film
Directed by Mira Haley Steuer
Clarence, NY USA

Best Western New York College Student Film
“Capture Tomorrow”
Directed by Brayton Lydell
Buffalo, NY USA

716 People’s Choice Award
“The Banana Manifesto”
Directed by Azalia Muchransyah of Williamsville, NY

Past Film & Animation Festival Winners

2019 International Film Competition

PHIL GOMM, “Red & the Kingdom of Sound” (UK)


ANIL TOKUR, “Rising Puppets of the Limitless Sky” (Turkey)

Vikkramm Chandirramani, “The Perfect Murder” (India)

MIN DING, “Fox Spirit” (USA)

MICHAEL RICCI, “The Greeting” (USA)

Music Video
BARBARA CREUTZ, “How Can I Tell You” (France)

2019 716 Awards

People’s Choice
“Best of the Festival” Award

KALI CROISDALE, “Party Animal”
Best College Student Film
JACOB LITERRE, “The Beauts of Buffalo”
Best High School Student Film
SERGEY JOSEPH, “Not 4 Nothing: But 4 Something”

2019 Western New York Filmmaker of the Year



SUNY Niagara Film & Animation Festival
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