Diverse Perspectives Series

Diverse Perspectives Series

The Diverse Perspectives in Digital Media & Design: 2021 Speaker Series


Representations of Religion in Cinema
Shawn Snyder, Director / Co-Writer of “To Dust”
Friday, March 5, 2021, 4:30 PM, EST

Co-hosted by DMD Professor Tanju Ozdemir and DMD student, Megan Du Plessis

While discussions around diversity and inclusion abound today, rarely do we see dialog around religious diversity. Yet hate crimes against Jewish people in the U.S. are at an all-time high. How can the power of cinema educate, demystify the “other,” and start inclusive conversations about faith? Join us in discussion with filmmaker, Shawn Snyder as we explore his tender drama/comedy, “To Dust.”

Watch the Recording of the Event: 

Prior to the event, we encourage you to watch the feature film, “To Dust,” which is currently available to stream on AMAZON PRIME, VUDU and KANOPY, and to Rent or Purchase on Apple TV.

About the Film: Shmuel, a Hasidic cantor in Upstate New York, distraught by the untimely death of his wife, struggles to find religious solace, while secretly obsessing over how her body will decay. As a clandestine partnership develops with Albert, a local community college biology professor, the two embark on a darkly comic and increasingly literal undertaking into the underworld.

Also, feel free to view the educational materials for the film:



About the Artist:

Shawn Snyder grew up in suburban South Florida. After receiving a B.A. in Religion from Harvard, he spent most of his twenties on the road as a singer/songwriter. The last ten years have seen a return to Shawn's long-standing passion for filmmaking, during which he completed studies at NYU's Graduate Film Program. His short film, FESTUS, won the 2014 CINE Golden Eagle Award for Best Student Drama and later premiered on KQED’s Film School Shorts. His follow-up, LULU, premiered at the Palm Springs International ShortFest in 2015. And his first feature, TO DUST, starring Matthew Broderick and Géza Röhrig, premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the “Narrative Audience Award” and Shawn received the award for “Best New Narrative Director.” The film was released theatrically in North America in early 2019 by Good Deed Entertainment and distributed internationally by Sony Pictures Worldwide. It went on to be nominated for “Best Screenplay” at the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards. TO DUST was a part of IFP's 2015 Emerging Storytellers, the recipient of the NYU/Alfred P. Sloan’s $100K First Feature Award, and the winner of TFI's 2016 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize. Shawn is also a former IFP/Marcie Bloom Fellow and Sundance Institute Feature Film and Film2 Fellow, and was one of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2016. He is currently developing his second feature, SANNYASA, and the episodic travelogue anthology, STRIPMALL TROUBADOUR, both with long-time co-writer Jason Begue. Alongside his artistic pursuits, Shawn has always been a passionate teacher - including as an adjunct professor in the Graduate Film Program at NYU and at multiple arts education non-profits.


This event was brought to you by UConn’s Department of Digital Media & Design in partnership with: 

UConn’s Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life and Office of Global Affairs.


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