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Senior Wins Princess Grace Foundation Film Honoraria

Melanie Rosete Film BFA ’20 makes personal films with universal appeal.

Film major Melanie Rosete ’20 knew she was meant for a career in the arts, but never considered film an art form until she saw Requiem for a Dream(2000). It made a huge impact on how she saw filmmaking as an art.

Now in her senior year, the Brooklyn native was recently awarded a prestigious Film Honoraria by The Princess Grace Foundation–USA. Every spring, film programs across the country nominate rising seniors and graduate students for the Princess Grace Awards. Rosete was thrilled when the film faculty here chose to nominate her, but she never imagined she would win. “I really didn’t think I was going to get it. I thought I was just practicing to apply for a grant.”

She submitted her junior film, Princesa, a narrative short about a Mexican immigrant father who does his best to throw his daughter a Quinceañera, a fifteenth birthday party, but is ashamed his limited financial resources force him to hold it in their living room. He thinks it’s the way to demonstrate his love, but she simply wants to connect emotionally. “It’s about them trying to find each other,” she explains. She also reveals the story is about her relationship with her own father.

Rosete is comfortable sharing personal experiences in her films. It’s part of the reason she came to Purchase in the first place—the emphasis on emotional storytelling. “I felt like after my first month of film school, I was a better filmmaker than I had been just prior, because they kept pushing emotions, emotions,” she says.

Her senior film is a documentary about she and her brother reuniting with the maternal grandmother they haven’t spoken to in seven years because of family turmoil. “Since my first film when I was 15, I’ve used filmmaking to process experiences and emotions in my life. It’s a very natural space for me to live in, to be uncomfortable emotionally. I don’t really know how to make films that are not that way.”

With an affinity for both editing and directing, she hopes to continue making films that are personal, yet resonate with audiences. “My college years have been about making films that are very directly about me, and I think it’s helped me learn how to make films that are more universally accepted.”

She’s incredibly proud and humbled by the Princess Grace Foundation’s recognition of her work. “Their acceptance letter said ‘we see you and we see what you’re trying to do and we want you to keep going.’ So to hear that as an undergrad, 20-year-old filmmaker is crazy. It opens a lot of doors for me.”