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“The Opportunist” takes its chances against nine shorts from around the world

A short film by a group of School of Communication alumni heads to the Cannes Film Festival this month. The film, “The Opportunist,” will be the first American short screened at the festival’s International Critics’ Week section in two years, one of only ten shorts chosen from a field of 1,700 entries, and the only American short film in competition at Cannes this year. The festival’s Critic’s Week, opening May 16, is focused on finding young, fresh talent across the globe.


Written and directed by David Lassiter (C08), “The Opportunist” depicts a night in the life of a social shape-shifter addicted to the visceral thrill of invading the lives of others. The film marks the first collaboration between a team of young and up-and-coming L.A. filmmakers: Lassiter, producers Alberto Roldán (C10), and Cate Smierciak (C08). The film stars New York actor Nick Clifford and used the talents of Mike Fuchs (C08), director of photography; Chris Amos (C10), editor; Travis LaBella (C11), gaffer; Tyler Roth (C08), colorist; Stephen Ling (C12), best boy electric; and Katy Yoder (C09), featured actress.

“Part of what’s so cool about this is that the film was basically made by a team of friends who cut their teeth at Northwestern’s film program,” Roldán said. (Pictured above at right with, from left, Smierciak, Clifford, and Lassiter.) “Over half the crew was made up of Northwestern alumni.” Lassiter told Chicago’s Red Eye he is grateful to Northwestern not only for the alumni who helped him produce his movie, but also for allowing him to produce work during his time there that opened up a lot of doors for him when he first moved to L.A. five years ago.

“I’m so incredibly grateful for how much liberty the Northwestern student film community gave us when it came to being able to experiment with equipment, time, and money,” he said. “It felt really special that I could go to a school where I was getting such an amazing liberal arts education and able to also go into this other thing with cameras, lights, and actors, and make movies.”