De Cordoba opens Culver City Gallery

Alex De Cordoba (Porter, Art, 2000) and Heather Taylor opened Taylor De Cordoba, a contemporary art gallery in April 2006. Located in the heart of Los Angeles’ Culver City Art District, the gallery primarily hosts solo shows with one or two group shows annually. In 2008, the Taylor De Cordoba gallery will feature various artists, including Frohawk Two Feathers and Kyle Field. The work of Kimberly Brooks is featured this month. Taylor De Cordoba also participates in national and international art fairs, including Art LA, Scope NY and Aqua in Miami.

Film and Digital Media

Grande receives 2007 American Book Award for debut novel

UC Santa Cruz alumna Reyna Grande received a 2007 American Book Award for her debut novel, Across A Hundred Mountains.

Reyna Grande photo by Ibarionex R. Perello
Reyna Grande (photo by Ibarionex R. Perello).

The American Book Awards — established in 1978 by the Before Columbus Foundation — recognize "outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America's diverse literary community." Award-winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized and emerging authors. The goal of the awards is to acknowledge the excellence and multicultural diversity of American writing.

Grande, who earned her bachelor's degree in creative writing/film & video from UC Santa Cruz in 1999, wrote the first 80 pages of the novel as part of her senior project in UCSC's Literature Department. The book was published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, in June 2006, and is now required reading in core courses at the Porter and Kresge Colleges.

Told in a non-linear narrative, Across a Hundred Mountains deals with the issue of immigration and how it affects family members — both those who make it across the border, and those who are left behind.

Grande's novel previously won the 2006 Premio Atzlan Literary Award, established to encourage and reward emerging Chicana and Chicano authors. She is currently working on a second novel — the story of four women in a Los Angeles-based folklorico group.

Born in Guerrero, Mexico, in 1975, Grande entered the United States illegally in 1985. In 2003, she was a fellow in the Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellowship program.

F&DM alums share success stories with current students

Film Alumni Photo
From left:  Mo Perkins, Dylan Wilcox, Film and Digital Media Chair Shelley Stamp, Tamara Maloney, and Sarah Schechter. (Photo by Scott Rappaport)

Four alums who’ve achieved success in the film industry returned to the UC Santa Cruz campus for a roundtable discussion on how to succeed in the business of making movies. The panel featured Sarah Schechter, Vice President of Production for Warner Bros. Pictures; Dylan Wilcox, Director of WorldWide Acquisitions for Universal Pictures Group; Tamara Maloney, an independent producer, editor and director; and Mo Perkins, an award-winning filmmaker.

Schechter now oversees more than 20 films in various stages of development and production at Warner Bros. "I didn't think when I went to UC Santa Cruz that I wanted to be a studio executive; I don't even think I knew what that was," Schechter said. "But the reason that I've done well in my job is that I'm able to clearly articulate an opinion about films — both artistically and commercially.

“The best thing I did in college was to see a lot of movies and talk about them critically," she added. "Because you learn the language of filmmaking and it helps on sets and in talking to people in the business; it's the best groundwork for working in film and a way to make connections with filmmakers that you're excited to meet."

Wilcox spends his days looking for independent films to distribute domestically through Focus Features and Rogue Pictures — both divisions of Universal Pictures. "When I went to school here, I didn't realize there was a job out there where you watch a lot of movies and go to film festivals," said Wilcox. "There's no need to put all of your eggs into one basket — think of each project as a stepping stone. Stick to something that moves you and use it as a building block for your next job."

Perkins took a different route to moving up in the business. After graduating from UCSC, she earned a master’s degree in directing at UCLA, where she was the recipient of numerous awards. In addition to directing short films, Perkins began writing screenplays. A Quiet Little Marriage, now in post-production, is her feature directorial debut. "It's a tricky road because there's not really a direct path to success in this business — we all make our own way," Perkins said. “So my advice is to create things — put your heart into it."

Maloney collaborated with Academy Award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler on his documentary feature Who Needs Sleep? (Sundance 2006) and edited American Zombie, which hit theaters in March. "I really thrived at UCSC — on the passion and love for what we were doing here," she added. "I spent so much time watching movies in the library. We would just eat, breathe and live film…"

Lester screens work at Slamdance

My Mother’s Garden, a film by 2001 Film and Digital Media alum Cynthia Lester, was screened at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival. It was also shown at the Hot Docs and True/False Festivals.

The film is a personal documentary that deals with complex family dynamics and mental disorder. Lester spent three years working on My Mother’s Garden in her spare time. She’s been doing freelance post-production work on projects such as Daron Arnofsky's The Fountain in addition to social work. She is currently helping underage girls who’ve been exploited in the sex industry. 
For more information about My Mother’s Garden, visit

Theater Arts
Manheim keynotes Scholarship Benefit Dinner

Camryn Manheim (Porter, Theater Arts, 1984) was the keynote speaker at this year’s Scholarship Benefit Dinner. Held Feb. 9, the event drew 250 attendees and raised an estimated $160,000 for undergraduate scholarships.

Camryn Manheim photo
Camryn Manheim

On the day of the annual fundraising dinner, UCSC media expert
L. S. Kim
hosted "An Afternoon With Camryn Manheim." The 90-minute Q & A session with the award-winning film and television actress was held at the at the Theater Arts Second Stage.

Manheim is best known for her role as attorney Ellenor Frutt on ABC's Emmy award-winning drama The Practice and as Delia Banks on Ghost Whisperer. In 1998, she won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for The Practice and in 1999, a Golden Globe award for the same role. Manheim also received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations in 2005 for her portrayal of Gladys Presley in the CBS miniseries Elvis.

Manheim's film credits include Todd Solondz's Happiness, The Laramie Project, Scary Movie 3, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, and The Road to Wellville. She has also appeared on numerous other television programs.

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Spring 2008