A close-up rendering of the new Suraj Israni Center for the Cinematic Arts, which will be located in the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning District. (Courtesy of Safdie Rabines Architects)

Aspiring filmmaker Suraj Israni understood that cinema has the capacity to inspire social change. While attending school in New York City, he encouraged his family back home in San Diego to watch independent films and documentaries, sharing with them the films that moved him the most.

After his death, his family ensures that their son’s legacy will be continued with an endowment pledge that will establish a new center at the University of California at San Diego, engaged in the promotion, promotion and defense of cinema. , filmmaking and cinematographic arts. The donation contributes to the Campaign for UC San Diego, with the university’s full fundraising campaign ending June 30, 2022.

In recognition of the generous donation of Deepak and Varsha Israni, UC San Diego is proud to establish the Suraj Israni Center for the Cinematographic Arts within the Division of Arts and Humanities, the university’s center for progress. creative and academic in culture, music, theater, film and the arts.

“Deepak and Varsha Israni are deeply committed to providing access and an opportunity for current UC San Diego students to pursue their passion for cinema,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The creation of the Suraj Israni Center for the Cinematic Arts will continue to make UC San Diego the premier destination in California for interdisciplinary and rigorous engagement with the arts and artists. “

In Hindi, “suraj” means “the sun” and just like its namesake, Suraj has illuminated the lives of everyone in his presence, the Israni family said. “His love, energy and beautiful smile made a lasting impact on everyone he met,” they said. “His physical presence is deeply missed, but his light continues to shine through everything he touched.”

Suraj Israni’s passion for writing and directing films led him to enroll in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and he dedicated himself to following and attending several film festivals, including Sundance. He developed an eclectic taste and in-depth knowledge of film and music, and was always learning new skills: he excelled in stand-up comedy, music composition, playing multiple instruments, and writing screenplays.

The Isranis have stated that their son is extremely passionate about all aspects of filmmaking and, through his passion, they have developed a growing appreciation and understanding of the impact and potential of film. In particular, he introduced them to the great advantages that festivals have for young filmmakers and professionals, and the Isranis want to provide opportunities and access to students who share the same interests as Suraj.

“Suraj has shown us that while being a great way to tell stories, films educate and inspire change in individuals and society in general,” they said. “He shared with us films that impacted social change and reflected his own compassionate beliefs.”

Film festivals and symposia, scholarships and apprenticeships, and other student-centric activities – including film competitions and awards, and even trips in support of academic work – will all be developed under the new center. The central location for almost all public programming will be in the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning District.

Irani’s pledge also establishes Chancellor Suraj Israni’s Endowed Chair in Film Arts to support the teaching, research and service of a distinguished faculty member focused on the film arts in the Division of Arts and Entertainment. social science.

UC San Diego and the Division of Arts and Humanities in particular are uniquely positioned to establish the Suraj Israni Center for the Cinematographic Arts, and the new center will enhance the university’s role as a leader in interdisciplinary collaboration. innovative from a global perspective. From cinema specialists specializing in the history of Asian, American and European cinema to practitioners of sound design, composition, writing and acting, the new center will reach beyond borders to combine research, learning and practice, all focused on the cinematic arts.

The Suraj Israni Center will help shape the future of the film arts at UC San Diego as a space that combines learning and practice, creativity and business, storytelling and social engagement, and the cross-media innovation. Highlighting strengths already established in the Division of Arts and Humanities – the university’s minor in Film Studies recently moved from Thurgood Marshall College to the Division’s Institute of the Arts and Humanities, and a committee is being organized to discuss a proposal for a major in film arts – the new center will be the hub where rich conversations take place to stimulate creative excellence and innovation.

As the Cinematic Arts Division of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego enters a new phase of preparing the next generation of creative leaders, the Israni name will become deeply familiar to students and recognized within the community. global community of cinematographic arts, “said Cristina Della Coletta, dean of the Arts and Humanities Division and specialist in Italian cinema. “We are grateful to Deepak and Varsha Israni for their commitment to supporting our current and future students, all with the desire to understand and create films for the common good.”

The Isranis have said they are privileged and honored to be a part of UC San Diego’s new center, a world-class public institution. In particular, they hope that local students who aspire to a career in filmmaking will find the same opportunities here as those offered at private institutions around the world.

“We hope to see the kindness and helpful nature of Suraj live on through the students who benefit from this center. Our vision is to see their dreams and aspirations come to life through the artistic work produced by the students, ”said Deepak and Varsha Israni. “Suraj’s passion will live on through the success of the Suraj Israni Center for the Cinematographic Arts.”

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