May 18, 2022

SMC Student Film “The War Within” Accepted into 2022 American Pavilion at Cannes

The War Within
Santa Monica College (SMC) student film “The War Within”—written and directed by SMC film student Marta D’Ocon—will screen at the 25th anniversary edition of the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the American Pavilion during the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, on May 25. This is SMC’s seventh student film to be selected for the showcase in the past eight years; Santa Monica College is the only community college represented in this category of the showcase. Since this is the first time the Cannes festival is back on-ground post-Covid, 2020 and 2021’s finalist films will also be screened. SMC will have a total of three student films on show in Cannes, including 2021’s Best Student Film Winner “Broken Layers” and 2020’s official selection “The Attempt.”

Three Santa Monica College Films Will Screen at In-Person Festival, including 2021 Best Student Film Winner “Broken Layers” and 2020’s Finalist “The Attempt”

SANTA MONICA, CA—Santa Monica College (SMC) student film “The War Within”—written and directed by SMC film student Marta D’Ocon—will screen at the 25th anniversary edition of the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the American Pavilion during the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, on May 25. This is SMC’s seventh student film to be selected for the showcase; Santa Monica College is the only community college represented in this category of the showcase.

The 33 films selected as part of the 2022 showcase will be presented to an in-person audience, along with the 68 finalist films from 2020 and 2021, which means that Santa Monica College will have a total of three student films on show in Cannes: 2021’s Best Student Film winner Broken Layers(written and directed by Niccolo Rolim) and 2020’s official selection “The Attempt(written and directed by Daniel Despart), both to be screened on May 23. This will be the first time the Cannes Film Festival is back on ground since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“’The War Within’ is extraordinary for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it was written and directed by an 18-year old student, Marta D’Ocon, whose directorial perspective and artistic maturity in this film go way beyond her years,” said SMC Film Professor Salvador Carrasco, who heads the film production program. “Also, it happens to be a quintessentially Latin American story told by a Spanish—Catalonian, to be precise—filmmaker, a courageous undertaking (given the historical complexity of Spain-Latin America relations) worthy of giants like Luis Buñuel, the Spanish director who dissected Mexican cultural identity in unforgettable films like ‘Los olvidados.’”

Carrasco further added: “Last but not least, because it is simply extraordinary: well-crafted, moving, thought-provoking, and with something relevant to say about the world we live in and the seemingly insurmountable challenges women have to face whatever context they find themselves in, including so-called ‘progressive’ ones.”

D’Ocon stated that the very first seed for “The War Within” came to life in 2019 “when I read an article about women’s forced abortions in different parts of the world. It got under my skin that in this day and age women apparently are still not expected or trusted to make final decisions about their bodies, their lives, their choices.”

“I wanted to make this film to confront that issue head on, stressing the fact that, when it comes to basic human rights, women get the short end of the stick on either side of the ideological spectrum: right and left alike. As fate would have it, here we are in 2022 with the Supreme Court potentially about to overturn Roe v. Wade,” D’Ocon said. “I hope ‘The War Within’ contributes with its grain of salt so that we never forget how the most precious things in life can be taken away from us at any moment.”

D’Ocon stated that she is “forever grateful to Santa Monica College and Prof. Carrasco in particular for their mentorship, as well as to our cast and crew for their invaluable support and collaboration.”

In the past eight years, seven SMC films have been official selections at the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival, with “Broken Layers” winning Best Short in 2021. Carrasco speaks to this record: “As head of the SMC Film Program, I am incredibly proud of our students and their films, which are both in tune with and challenge the pulse of the world we live in. I believe our film school is now on par with the best in the nation, with the caveat that ours costs a mere fraction of most tuition fees out there.”

The immensely affordable cost aside, Carrasco adds: “Our film program is helping redefine the notion of what a community college can be when we place our educational bet on talent, work ethic, and fulfilling social values at the highest possible standard.”

The 2022 program features 33 films including 24 female-identifying directors and co-directors at the helm of 17 projects, 10 films focused on LGBTQ+ topics, and filmmakers of diverse backgrounds from the U.S. and around the globe, highlighting new voices in six categories – Emerging Filmmaker Documentaries, Emerging Filmmaker Short Films, Emerging Filmmaker LGBTQ+ Films, Student Documentaries, Student Short Films, and High School Films.

“Broken Layers”—which won Best Student Short Film at The 24th American Pavilion Emerging Stude­­nt Showcase—is a humanist portrayal of the Iraq War and its aftermath as experienced by Rosa, a half-Latina, half-Arab U.S. Marine. As for SMC’s 2020 entry, “The Attempt” is set in 1921 post-World War I Berlin and it is based on a true story. “The Attempt” follows Soghomon Tehlirian, a young man who is given the mission to assassinate the chief orchestrator of the Armenian genocide. During his first attempt, Soghomon realizes that killing another man is not easy and contemplates starting a new life with the woman he loves.

SMC student films have won numerous accolades—including production grants from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and the Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum, co-production sponsorships from Keslow Camera, Roundabout Entertainment, and the Next Generation Indie Film Awards Foundation; the Panavision Limelight Award at the Ojai Film Festival; Best Short at the Vienna Independent Film Festival, Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, several Gold Remi Awards at WorldFest-Houston, Best Short at Port Blair International Film Festival in India, Best Short Drama at the San Diego International Film Festival; Best Short at the Prague Independent Film Festival; Prix Interculturel at the International Festival of Film Schools in Munich; and Winner at the Women's Independent Film Festival, among many other awards. In addition, SMC short films have been selected to screen in many other prestigious domestic and international film festivals.

Several films that have played at The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase have gone on to be shortlisted for Academy Award nominations. For more information on The American Pavilion at Cannes, visit Since 1989, The American Pavilion has offered unparalleled experiences in Cannes to film students and emerging filmmakers from around the world. AmPav’s Emerging Filmmaker Showcase, now in its 25th edition, provides an opportunity for young filmmakers to have their works seen by Cannes Festival and Film Market attendees. In addition to the 2022 showcase projects, finalist films from 2020 and 2021 will also be screened at The American Pavilion this year. All screenings with filmmakers in attendance will be followed by a live Q&A.

Beloved screen icons featured in the 2022 showcase series films include: Guillermo del Toro (“Pan's Labyrinth”, “The Shape of Water”), Phil Lord (“The Lego Movie”, “21 Jump Street”), Lee Unkrich, (“Coco”, “Toy Story 3”); Ian Buchanan (“The Bold and the Beautiful”); Lauren Ridloff (“The Eternals”, “Sound of Metal”); Danielle Savre (“Station 19”, “Heroes”); Vico Ortiz (“Our Flag is Death”); Melanie Nicholls-King (“Billions”, “Little Fires Everywhere”); Greer Grammar (“Awkward”); Jeremy Sisto (“Wrong Turn”); Billy Wirth (“Shutter the Doors”); Kausar Mohammed (“4400”), Victoria Atkin (“Assassins Creed”); with many more appearing in the 2020 and 2021 finalist projects.

“The 2022 cohort of student filmmakers and young talents brings us a richly diverse program including 24 female-identifying directors presenting 17 films, and 10 films focused on LGBTQ+ topics as well as many projects exploring the meaning of cultural identity,” said Julie Sisk, Founder and Director of The American Pavilion. “We are also thrilled to back in-person this year bringing the 2022 finalist filmmakers together with the talents from 2020 and 2021 to provide them the opportunity to screen during the 75th landmark edition of the Cannes Film Festival.”

Emerging showcase winners will be chosen by a jury that includes agents, managers, producers, and industry members and will be announced at The American Pavilion during this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

SMC offers an Associate of Science degree and Certificate of Achievement in Film Production. To learn more, visit or email The film program—as well as the films that come out of it— is on YouTube as the “Santa Monica College Film Program” channel.

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About Santa Monica College:

Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). For 31 consecutive years, SMC has been California’s leading transfer college to UCLA, UC Berkeley, and other University of California campuses. The college also tops in transfers to the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University and is the top feeder west of the Mississippi to the Ivy League Columbia University. In addition to the Film Production Program, more than 110 career training degrees and certificates at SMC—in fields ranging from the traditional (Accounting, Early Childhood Education, Nursing) to the emerging (Sustainable Technologies, Technical Theatre, and a baccalaureate degree in Interaction Design)—offer professional preparation for students interested in directly entering the job market, transferring to a four-year school, or upgrading specific skills. SMC provides news and cultural enrichment through its NPR radio station KCRW (89.9 FM), the Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center, and lifelong learning through distinctive programs such as its Emeritus Program for older adults.

About the American Pavilion:

The American Pavilion, celebrating its 33rd year as the epicenter of American hospitality and communication at the Cannes International Film Festival, brings together both professional and emerging filmmakers along with industry executives from across the globe. A much sought-after destination for information, orientation, and recreation, it accommodates the needs of its members, guests and sponsors in a dynamic business environment. With its impressive array of amenities and services, AmPav provides an opportunity to relax in very comfortable surroundings. The American Pavilion is part of Penske Media Corporation. For more information about AmPav contact publicist Laura Molinari, visit, check it out on Facebook Also on Twitter as @AmPav and Instagram as @The_American_Pavilion.