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Students at the American Film Institute lead the way for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s annual Student Academy Awards.

The Academy named 16 students as winners on Thursday, including three in the narrative category from AFI. The competition received 1,615 entrants from 255 domestic and 105 international colleges and universities, the Academy said.

AFI was the only school to take more than one award. AFI students Asher Jelinsky (“Miller & Son”), Hao Zheng (“The Chef”)  and Omer Ben-Shachar (“Tree #3,”) took home awards in the narrative category. Last year, the University of Southern California was the only school to take home more than one award, with four.

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Winners of the Student Academy Awards are eligible to compete for Oscars in the Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film or Documentary Short Subject category. Past winners have gone on to nab 62 Oscar nominations and have won or shared 12 awards.

The 2019 winners join the ranks of such past Student Academy Award winners as Patricia Cardoso, Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Patricia Riggen and Robert Zemeckis.

Here’s the full list of winners:

Alternative/Experimental (Domestic and International Film Schools)
Georden West, “Patron Saint,” Emerson College

Animation (Domestic Film Schools)
Aviv Mano, “Game Changer,” Ringling College of Art and Design
Kalee McCollaum, “Grendel,” Brigham Young University
Emre Okten, “Two,” University of Southern California

Animation (International Film Schools)
Daria Kashcheeva, “Daughter,” Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague (Czech Republic)

Documentary (Domestic Film Schools)
Eva Rendle, “All That Remains,” University of California, Berkeley
Princess Garrett, “Sankofa,” Villanova University
Abby Lieberman and Joshua Lucas, “Something to Say,” Columbia University

Documentary (International Film Schools)
Yifan Sun, “Family,” The Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School, Lodz (Poland)

Narrative (Domestic Film Schools)
Asher Jelinsky, “Miller & Son,” American Film Institute
Hao Zheng, “The Chef,” American Film Institute
Omer Ben-Shachar, “Tree #3,” American Film Institute

Narrative (International Film Schools)
Zoel Aeschbacher, “Bonobo,” Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ECAL) (Switzerland)
Rikke Gregersen, “Dog Eat Dog,” Westerdals Kristiania University College (Norway)
Charlie Manton, “November 1st,” National Film and Television School (United Kingdom)

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The television series “Mrs. Fletcher,” “Briarpatch” and “Limetown” have been added to the lineup at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, which will screen two or three episodes of each series followed by extended Q&As with the creators and cast.

Those three U.S. series will be part of TIFF’s Primetime section, which will also showcase the international series “Black Bitch” (Australia), “Savages” (France) and “The Sleepers” (the Czech Republic).

“Mrs. Fletcher” is an upcoming series from HBO and Crave, based on the Tom Perotta novel and starring Kathryn Hahn as an empty-nest mother. “Briarpatch,” from USA Network, stars Rosario Dawson as a political fixer investigating the death of her sister. And Facebook Watch’s podcast-based “Limetown” follows a public radio journalist (Jessica Biel) looking into the disappearance of 300 people at a research facility.

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Toronto organizers also announced the lineup for its five-day TIFF Industry Conference, which will launch on September 6 with a conversation with director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer, whose collaborations include the TIFF opening-night documentary “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band.”

The conference will also include master classes with Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles and Chinese-born director Lulu Wang; a conversation about gender equality led by Swedish Film Institute CEO Anna Serner; and guest speakers including Edward Burns, Barbara Kopple, Franklin Leonard and Alan Berliner.

The TIFF Doc Conference, curated by Thom Powers and Denae Peters, will include talks and panels featuring Kopple, Berliner, Kickstarter’s Elise McCave, Showtime’s Vinnie Malhotra, the International Documentary Association’s Claire Aguilar and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Ashley Clark, among others.

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Finally, TIFF named four young actors – Argentina’s Chino Darin, Norway’s Josefine Frida, the United States’ Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Australia’s Geraldine Viswanathan – to its Rising Stars program. The four join a quartet of previously announced Canadian Rising Stars, Mikhail Ahooja, Shamier Anderson, Kacey Rohl and Nahema Ricci.

Darin will appear at TIFF in “Heroic Losers,” Frida in “Disco,” Harrison in “Waves” and Viswanathan in “Bad Education.”

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival will kick off on September 5 with a screening of the documentary “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band,” and conclude on September 15.

Additional information on the programming is available at

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At the end of 2016, Steven Van Zandt aka Little Steven, was ready to take a deep breath, and some time off. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band toured for the better part of the year in North America and Europe behind the re-release of “The River.” As Springsteen’s guitar soloing consigliere, Van Zandt knew that the band had a string of dates in Australia and New Zealand in early 2017, but nothing after that. It would have given him time to pursue other endeavors, perhaps even a new television project.

As he and his wife, Maureen, were making arrangements to celebrate ex-Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman’s birthday in London, the guitarist/TV mobster from HBO hit “The Sopranos” got an offer that he couldn’t refuse.

“I had no intention of coming back in,” he says over the phone ahead of a tour stop in Buffalo. “There had been no real plan to reconnect with my own work — as silly as that sounds now,” Van Zandt said. As he prepared for his trip, the guitarist was contacted by a promoter who asked him about performing at a blues festival in London on the same weekend as Wyman;’s birthday and asked Van Zandt if he could throw a band together and headline one of the nights. “If it hadn’t been Bill Wyman’s birthday, if I didn’t happen to run into this crazy promoter and he didn’t have this wild idea to have me headline a show, none of this woulda happened,” he said.

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Thus, after 25 years away, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul were unexpectedly reformed.

Though Van Zandt says that he will “never get back to being the frontman I was in the ’80s” at the peak of his solo career (he left the E Street Band in a performing capacity just before the release of “Born in the U.S.A.” in 1984), the axe man says that his two years on the road with his band has been more than gratifying and that he’s “halfway back” to where he was. In 2017, Van Zandt released “Soulfire,” an album of songs he’d had written for other artists, quickly followed up in 2019 by “Summer of Sorcery,” released earlier this year. It’s his first collection of solo material since 1999’s “Born Again Savage,” which was released right as Springsteen reunited with the E Street Band (the album was actually recorded in 1994 but the record company didn’t release it at the time).

“It’s been a challenge, but a healthy one,” Van Zandt says of relaunching his solo career. “But it keeps you working. ‘Summer of Sorcery’ has been just a wonderful show to do live. It was an accidental circumstance kinda thing, which describes most of my life (laughs), but here it is.”

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It’s one thing to be known for his work playing Springsteen and having his hand in production on iconic albums from “Born to Run” through “Born in the U.S.A.” (“Nebraska” not withstanding), but getting the affirmation from a legend on his own material was the sign for Van Zandt that resuscitating his solo material was the right decision.

Ahead of his show in London, Van Zandt invited Paul McCartney to swing by (McCartney famously played with Springsteen and company in Hyde Park in 2009 where they went over curfew and had the power clipped) to take it in and hope on stage with him. On the off chance that Macca would take him up on his offer, Van Zandt quickly put together a swinging version of the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” and rehearsed it quickly with his band during soundcheck. Well, McCartney ended up hopping on stage and they did the revamped version, which was in the vein of rip-roaring rock-n-roll standard “Maybellene”. But, there was something else, though, that stuck out to him.

“It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life,” he says of McCartney joining him and the Disciples of Soul. “Coming on my stage, endorsing what I’m doing, my own personal music, that was just beyond my imagination. That kind of endorsement from a guy who is responsible for me doing this (playing music) — one of them — it was a remarkable moment.”

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While reforming the Disciples of Soul has been a way for him to unexpectedly stay busy while Springsteen was on Broadway, Van Zandt also found time to dip back into his catalog to find material to release as a two-volume soundtrack to New York mob drama “Lilyhammer,” which was the first original series to be released on Netflix. The two versions are snippets of the score Van Zandt wrote himself and odds, ends and an assortment of covers that were performed on the show before it ended in 2014.

“You’re always kind of checking to make sure your memory of it is accurate,” Van Zandt said of the music he wrote during those four years. “We all have a bit of narcissism that’s required but you want to make sure you’re not imagining something that isn’t there. There’s great performances and cool melodies and really enjoyed that particular artistic adventure.”

“Lilyhammer” saw him play Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano, an ex-mobster exiled in Norway. Tagliano’s gregarious personality drew in stark contrast to Silvio Dante, the mobster Van Zandt had famously portrayed on “The Sopranos.”

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“On my first promotional tour, I had to explain to people what Netflix was,” he recalls of the show’s launch. “I was like, ‘Well, it’s kinda like Blockbuster but they’re makin’ their own stuff now. People were like, ‘Why would they want to do that? Why would they want to create original content?'”

Instead of it being an uncomfortable foray to an uncharted new world, Van Zandt says it “was the most wonderful business deal” he’d ever done. Originally, Van Zandt was going to bring “Lilyhammer” to Starz since he knew Chris Albrecht from HBO, but by a stroke of luck — or location — Netflix was across the street from the cable network and Van Zandt figured that he might as well go there as well. Starz didn’t have any budget left that year for the show (Albrecht asked him to wait a year), and it ended up being Netflix’s gain.

“I’ll never beat it,” he says. “It was just me and [Netflix chief content officer] Ted Sarandos and there was nobody else in the office, basically. It was a very, very small group of people and Ted was really the only guy I met,” Van Zandt remembers. The company had signed ‘House of Cards,’ at the time, but it wasn’t ready and by default Lilyhammer became Netflix’s first show. “I said, ‘Ted, are you sure you want to take a chance on us for your first show, a show with subtitles?’ Van Zandt asked. “And he was brave enough to say that it just works. I give him a lot of credit to have those kind of balls to take a chance like that on the first show. I took a chance on Netflix and they took a chance on me.”

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Now, 20 years since “The Sopranos” first aired on HBO, Van Zandt isn’t surprised that the show continues to maintain its popularity and cultural importance.

“It comes around every 10 years or five years, it’s there all the time,” he says of the landmark HBO series. “Which is nice because people can discover it, and they do.”

He doesn’t know if Dante will be in the upcoming “Sopranos” prequel, “The Many Saints of Newark,” Van Zandt says he is confident that the film will be rewarding for longtime fans of the HBO mega-series.

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“I think it’s going to be great,” he says of the film. “The fact that David Chase is doing it automatically, in my mind, makes it a really, really safe bet. He’s one of the most brilliant guys I’ve ever met and I love everything he does. I think he’s great and we’ll all find out (about the movie) together.”

As for his day job, Van Zandt has shows booked with the Disciples of Soul through November and is ready to go whenever Springsteen gives the go-ahead. And that could be much sooner than E Street Nation is anticipating.

Earlier this year, Springsteen appeared with Van Zandt at the first show of his tour at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills in May, ahead of a For Your Consideration appearance he was set to make for Netflix the next night. There, Springsteen said he had just finished an album of songs for the E Street Band. (As for “Western Stars,” Van Zandt loved it, saying “he’s so versatile and has a wide range of talent when it comes to his artistic vision. And it’s always interesting when he picks a new hybrid genre to explore and I thought it was wonderful.”)

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Speaking of the mysterious collections of tunes his longtime pal says he has written, Van Zandt said that they’re “still rumblings and we’ll see what happens,” but said that he has left his calendar wide open after his final Disciples of Soul dates in November.

“I certainly am planning on the possibility,” he says of a new Springsteen and E Street Band record. “I wanted to leave room in case he wants to do a record with the E Street Band and we will have time to do it November, December and be able to deliver it in January (of 2020) and then be out (on the road) in the summer of 2020. IF that’s what he wants to do.”

Despite being fairly tightlipped on his knowledge on what’s to come on a future E Street album, Van Zandt said that the recording would be fast, with the band being able to “knock out a couple of tracks a day.”

As for his own foreseeable future, Van Zandt plans on keeping the Disciples of Soul together and not have a 25-year gap between material, calling “Summer of Sorcery” an “unexpected artistic rebirth,” but that “Bruce will always remain a first priority to me and we’ll see what he wants to do,” and that he isn’t quite done with doing TV just yet, especially given his unexpected roles of the seismic shift of that landscape.

“I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time for the two major revolutions in that took place on TV,” he says of HBO and “The Sopranos” and the rise of Netflix Originals. “I’m lucky to be in two of the most unique TV shows in history. The nice thing about the modern world is that people keep discovering them every day. Somehow, in between all of my things, I have to find six months in a row where I can do a TV show again.”

“Summer of Sorcery” and “Lilyhammer Vols. 1 and 2” are out now via Wicked Cool/UMe

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