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Award-winning filmmaker joins UT Arlington faculty

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

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Media Contact: Sue Stevens

ARLINGTON - Ya'Ke Smith, widely regarded as one of today's most promising young film directors, has joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Arlington. The founder and CEO of Exodus Filmworks is now a tenure-track assistant professor in the film program in the Department of Art and Art History.

Film professor Ya'Ke Smith

Film professor Ya'Ke Smith

Smith's films have received worldwide acclaim, screening and winning awards at more than 40 film festivals, including The Cannes International Film Festival and The American Black Film Festival. His films have screened on HBO, Showtime and BET J. 

"Ya'Ke's films have compelling stories that take an unvarnished look at today's issues," said Robert Hower, chairman of the Department of Art and Art History. "He has a very bright future in the film industry, and we are excited about what he will bring to students in our film program."

Smith's short film, "Hope's War," received the 2005 Director's Guild of America Student Film Award and was broadcast nationally on Showtime Television's Black Filmmaker Showcase in 2006. The film also was a finalist of BETJ's The Best Shorts Film Competition in 2008.

Another of his films, "The Second Coming," was nominated for a Student Academy Award and also won the HBO Short Film Award at the 2007 American Black Film Festival. The film was selected to screen at the 12th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival in New York in 2008. His short film "Change," was selected as one of three finalists in the 2009 American Black Film Festival.

Smith earned his Master's of Fine Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006, but he is no stranger to the UT Arlington film program. He was a visiting assistant professor during the 2009-2010 school year.

"The film program here is growing rapidly, and I really like the fact that it gives young, aspiring filmmakers the chance to get hands on experience," Smith said. "The students in the program are very talented. I am going to be proud to be able to assist them in their growth as artists."

Smith will teach screenwriting and advanced film and video in the fall semester.

In many university film programs students learn theory, history and analysis, but have very little hands-on training. Some students graduate from film programs having never made a single movie.

The UT Arlington program treats film and video as a studio art program, ensuring that students receive a balanced dose of practical application, as well as theoretical appreciation.

The film program is one of the growing areas of excellence at UT Arlington, an institution of nearly 29,000 students in the heart of North Texas that is on its way to becoming a nationally recognized research institution.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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