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Damani Brissett ’21 Receives Inaugural Milos Stehlik Scholar Award

The honor is presented by the Telluride Film Festival.

Congratulations to Damani Brissett ’21 for being named the first recipient of the Milos Stehlik Scholar award by the renowned Telluride Film Festival (TFF), presented by National Film Preserve LTD.

TFF established the award before its 46th festival in late August to honor the legacy of Facets Multimedia co-founder and former TFF Board President, Milos Stehlik, who passed away in July 2019. Stehlik’s longtime commitment to film exhibition and education made him a lifelong friend to students, cinephiles, and filmmakers as a champion of cinema.

Brissett was selected for embodying Stehlik’s passion and humanist heart. He was chosen from the 2019 Student Symposium class by its faculty.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Brissett points to a film experience he had when just eight years old that inspired him to become a filmmaker.

“I believe it was when I saw Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in theaters at Kings Plaza in Brooklyn. That movie sent me to cloud nine! It was the type of dreamscape I never thought could be culled from the mind and fully realized within the natural world. At the time, I thought this sort of imagination only existed within animation. The seed was planted, the journey began… and I guess here I am.”

While he’s not sure of his career path when he leaves Purchase, he’s focused on making films to help people. “For me, I just need to reflect the heart of the people and paint authentic human portraits with the camera.”

He adds “Achieving a competency in craft to yield that type of healing/escapism for the masses is that holy thing I’m thriving for within my work. That’s definitely what I uphold as my favorite aspect of filmmaking.”

After graduation, he also plans on philanthropic work, by taking a “deep dive into financial empowerment education for inner city youth.”

His drive to help others comes from his upbringing. “As a child, I was taught many integrities of living, some of them being: understand self-respect, respect for community, empathy, and aim to empower those around you to do good, not only for themselves, but for others,” he says. “These seeds of holistic approach to humanity were sown within me and my sister at an early age, quietly, in a little corner of Flatbush Brooklyn.”

Brissett will receive an internship with the Telluride Film Festival Education Programs in 2020 along with the experience of attending the 47th Festival. He’ll also receive travel, lodging, a stipend, and a student film pass.

The Student Symposium, now in its 32nd year, is open to 50 currently enrolled college and university students from around the globe, no matter their major. The primary requirement is a love of film.