The latest film by Justin Liberman, co-director and visiting assistant professor for Sacred Heart University’s Film and Television Master’s Program (FTMA), has been chosen as a Staff Pick on the video-sharing site Vimeo.
Out of 50 million films uploaded to Vimeo, its Staff Picks collection is a highly curated group of 10,000. Vimeo’s website explains, “We think of members of the community that get Staff Picked as part of an exclusive club. Not only do they get that laurel-coated badge to display on their video, but we also invite them to be a part of our directory of directors …This club includes some of the most famous and talented directors, animators and multi-talented video makers in the world.”
Liberman was director and co-writer of the film, Tobacco Burn, which is an American slave narrative. Shot in 2012, it tells the story of a small revolution on a southern tobacco farm. The film recently finished a successful film festival run, during which it was screened in over 50 international film festivals and won more than 20 prizes.
“Tobacco Burn is an important film for me, as it was the first time I had a chance to work on a large scale and broaden my canvas,” Liberman said. “The social and historical importance of the story was motivation for me and my collaborators. We were compelled to make a film that could authentically and respectfully represent this dark time period in American history.”
Since the film was released online, more than 23,000 people from over 85 countries have watched it. “To know your film is reaching a global audience is thrilling,” Liberman said. “In all of our film-festival screenings combined, maybe we had 2,500 people in the audiences. To be able to share this story with 10 times that number is remarkable and a reward in itself.”
Tobacco Burn is a film project that represents the camaraderie found at SHU, as 13 undergraduate and graduate students worked on it. “Sacred Heart has played a very big role in the making and the success of the film,” Liberman said. “Every time the credits roll, I am reminded of all the great work our students put into the film, and I’m proud that many of them got their start in the film industry on our film.”
William Jackson, a graduate of SHU’s master’s of communications program, acted in the film and also helped as a production assistant on the days he wasn’t filming. “I know for me, working on that film was one of the best experiences of my life,” Jackson said. “It was one of those experiences that grew out of my close relationship with my professor, Mr. Liberman, which could have only been forged at a small school like Sacred Heart University. To have the film now live online as part of this highly curated collection is incredible. I can share it with the world, and people can now see what all that hard work produced.”