Inaugural Sawhney Creative Excellence Award Bestowed For Career Promise
CSUN Film Student Misses Graduation & Award Reception to Screen at Cannes Film Festival
Filmmaker Benny Wolde-Yohannes’s work on “Pareto Principle” has earned him $10,000 to help launch a promising professional career. Wolde-Yohannes is the first recipient of the Ravi K. and Amalia Sawhney Creative Excellence Award, bestowed to recognize outstanding creative achievement by a graduating senior in CSUN’s Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication in Northridge.
“This is life-changing money, a belief that I can make it,” Wolde-Yohannes said. “I am so blessed. I don’t have enough words to say how grateful I am for this.”
On top of the graduation present, the 23-year-old Pasadena resident was recently invited by festival organizers to screen his senior film project, “Pareto Principle,” as part of their short film exhibition. The invitation presents a rare opportunity for the aspiring filmmaker to make important entertainment industry connections and screen his film before an international audience.
“Pareto Principle,” which Wolde-Yohannes wrote and directed, is the tale of two young men who find a duffel bag full of money. You can see the film’s trailer here (rough-cut). “It still feels kind of surreal,” Wolde-Yohannes said as he prepared for his trip to France. “While I am the one who is going, the invitation is really a testament to the hard work that everyone put into the film.”
Ravi and Amalia Sawhney created the award to recognize the important role the arts play in society and encourage young people who are pursuing careers in the creative arts. Robert Bucker, dean of the Mike Curb College, collaborated on the award’s development, commenting “We are grateful that Ravi and Amalia shared our vision to create an award to reward artistic excellence and professional promise.”
Amalia Sawhney said she was “deeply impressed with the quality of Benny’s video submission, and the strength of his career plan gave me confidence this award will be put to great use.” Ravi Sawhney, a Cal State Northridge alumnus, agreed. “Benny’s talents, collaborative spirit, insight and storytelling ability were all evident in a film that touched us emotionally and spiritually, while reflecting on the aspirations and realities of life for so many in Los Angeles and elsewhere,” he said. “We are very pleased to contribute towards his continuance of making a difference, while also bringing to light the quality of the graduates that emerge from the Mike Curb College at CSUN.”