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The Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts 

 

Supported by a $6 million endowment, the Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts will promote research, scholarship, teaching, production, and exhibition of film and moving-image arts.

The center will also provide access and opportunity for UC San Diego students and scholars to pursue their passion in cinematics arts, a field that has grown to include a range of media forms: film, video art, animation, virtual environments, and global and transnational cinemas.

Faculty Director

Multimedia artist and Department of Visual Arts teaching professor Michael Trigilio is the inaugural director of the Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts.

About Michael

Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts Established in Memory of Promising Film Student

In recognition of the generous gift from Deepak and Varsha Israni, UC San Diego is proud to establish the Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts within the School of Arts and Humanities.

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Purpose

The Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts will elevate the university’s role as a leader in innovative, interdisciplinary collaboration in both a local and global perspective. From film scholars and film makers specializing in our unique border region, and colleagues engaged in transnational cinematic experiences, to practitioners in sound design, composition, writing and acting, the new center will engage across boundaries to combine learning and doing, storytelling and social engagement, and cross-media innovation. 

The Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts aims to provide access and opportunity for UC San Diego students and scholars to pursue their passion in cinematics arts, a field that has grown to include a range of media forms: film, video art, animation, virtual environments, and global and transnational cinemas. 

The School of Arts and Humanities — the university’s hub for creative and academic advancement in arts and culture, including film, music, and theater — is ideally positioned to fulfill the Suraj Israni Center's interdisciplinary mission. The center will be the nexus where rich conversations take place to spur creative excellence and innovation.

To fulfill the Suraj Israni Center's goals, the Israni family’s gift also establishes the Suraj Israni Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Cinematic Arts to support the research, teaching and service of a distinguished faculty member focused on cinematic arts in Arts and Humanities.

Projects

The center will develop and host:

  • film festivals and symposiums,
  • student scholarships and apprenticeships,
  • student-centered activities like flmmaking and screenwriting workshops, master classes, competitions, awards and travel in support of academic work, and
  • screenings and exhibitions featuring the work of both students and researchers.

The central location for nearly all programming will be in the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

About Suraj Israni

Suraj-Israni-Center-Signage-Rendering-Article.pngAn aspiring filmmaker, Suraj Israni understood the way film has the capacity to inspire social change. While attending school in New York City, he would encourage his family at home in San Diego to watch independent movies and documentaries, sharing with them the films that moved him the most. After his passing, his family is ensuring their son’s legacy will be carried forward with an endowment commitment that established the Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts.

Suraj Israni’s passion for film writing and directing led him to enroll in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and he became dedicated to following and attending multiple film festivals, including Sundance. He developed an eclectic taste and deep knowledge of both film and music, and was always learning new skills: he excelled in stand-up comedy, composing music, playing multiple instruments and writing scripts.

“We hope to see Suraj’s kind-heartedness and helpful nature live through students who benefit from this center. Our vision is to see his dreams and aspirations come to life via the artistic work produced by students,” Deepak and Varsha Israni said. “Suraj’s passion will live on through the success of the Suraj Israni Center for Cinematic Arts.”

The Isranis said their son was extremely passionate about all aspects of filmmaking, and through his passion they developed an appreciation for and growing understanding of the impact and potential of film. In particular, he introduced them to the great benefit festivals have for young filmmakers and professionals, and the Isranis want to provide opportunity and access to students who share similar interests as Suraj.

“As the cinematic arts in the UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities moves into a new phase of preparing the next generation of creative leaders, the Israni name will become deeply familiar to students and recognized among the global cinematic arts community,” said Cristina Della Coletta, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and an Italian film scholar. “We are grateful to Deepak and Varsha Israni for their commitment to supporting our current and future students, all with the drive to understand and create film for the common good.”

FAQs

How is the new center related to current film and cinema programs on campus?

The Suraj Israni Center will support and build upon existing film and media programs on campus by hosting a variety of events, scholarships, resources and opportunities to connect campus faculty, students, and industry professionals for cross-media innovation.

The Suraj Israni Center will not provide academic degree programs (majors or minors) and those will continue to be facilitated through their respective programs, noted in the section below.

What are the existing film and cinema academic offerings on campus?

Where will the Suraj Israni Center be located and will it include production facilities?

The Suraj Israni Center director and staff will work out of the Office of the Dean in the Arts and Humanities Building in the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Public-facing programs will primarily be located in two, state-of-the-art screening and gathering rooms in the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood, directly below the Craft Center.

The location and development of physical production facilities are not yet finalized.

 

What is the timeline for center programming, events and opportunities?

Following an extensive nomination and review process, the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs officially appointed Michael Trigilio as the Suraj Israni Center's inaugural director. Under Michael's guidance, programmatic content and specific direction are currently in the early stages of development. More details will be provided here when available.

Updated June 2022