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Short Film Written and Directed by Pitt Alums Premieres March 4

An award-winning short film that tells the upbeat story of a young woman’s struggle with her identity will premiere March 4 in a free virtual screening from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m., hosted by the Jewish Association on Aging (JAA).

The event is designed to help raise funds for a bigger project—extending the 30-minute film titled “Thanks to Her” to a full-length feature. A panel discussion including six members of the cast and crew will follow the screening. Register for the event on the JAA website.

Registration is also open for a second screening and panel discussion scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 7.

Written by Sam Orlowski (A&S ’19) in 2018 while she was a film studies major at Pitt, the film was partially funded with a  Forge Your Own Path/Personalized Education grant. The support allowed Orlowski, co-director Sam McCoy (A&S ’19), producer Hayley Ulmer (A&S ’18), associate producer and Pitt student Camdyn Bass and others to immerse themselves in every aspect of film production, including guidance from a New York City cinematographer. The movie won an award in the Voices Rising Film Festival, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published a feature article on the alumni and the film.

“This was a way for me to tell a very personal story and it was my way of coming out when I finally felt ready to talk about it,” said Orlowski. “It also meant a lot to me to speak for my community, which is so underrepresented.”

The team posted “Thanks to Her” on YouTube last fall and it didn’t take long to register more than 600,000 views and hundreds of supportive comments. Orlowski plans to submit the movie to other film festivals and to women’s and LGBTQIA+ organizations.