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Documentary by UCR Alumnus Featured in Festival

Documentary by UCR Alumnus Featured in Festival

Austin Forbord’s “Stage Left” will screen April 10 at the Riverside International Film Festival.

(April 6, 2011)


"Stage Left"

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Austin Forbord began his college career majoring in economics and political science. By the time he graduated from UC Riverside in 1995, he had found his calling – film-making and the arts community in the Bay Area.

Today, Forbord runs a successful video production company in Oakland. His documentary film “Stage Left: A History of Theater in San Francisco” – commissioned by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation – will premiere at the Riverside International Film Festival, a 10-day event that begins April 8. The festival features more than 100 domestic and international films.

“Stage Left” will screen on Sunday, April 10, at 7 p.m. at the UltraStar Cinemas, 1201 University Ave. Forbord will participate in a question-and-answer session afterward. Ticket prices are $8 general admission, and $5 for students, seniors and active military.

Forbord’s 82-minute film chronicles the history of theater in San Francisco, beginning with the founding of the San Francisco Actor’s Workshop in 1952 through the present. The Bay Area theater community – known for its tradition of experimentation and political consciousness – has influenced theater around the world, he said. The film includes historical footage and interviews with directors, actors, composers, playwrights and others who have played roles in the evolution of theater, among them actor and comedian Robin Williams. UCR graduate Eli Nelson wrote the score for “Stage Left.”

Born in Italy – the son of a U.S. diplomat – Forbord grew up in Kenya, Jamaica, Australia, Argentina and the United States. Those childhood experiences of other cultures “inform who I am and my interests,” he said.

UC Riverside had fewer than 9,000 students when he graduated – less than half its current enrollment – and social life depended on campus events, he recalled.

“There was an eclectic group of people – students and faculty – who hung out together,” he said. “The Barn was the locus of social and intellectual life on the campus. It was a place where I could go to have a beer with professors and foreign exchange students. What I remember most was a bunch of misfits thrown together who found a great sense of community. It opened my eyes to other possibilities.”

He enrolled in dance, art and photography courses. By the time he graduated, he had discovered a passion for the visual image of performance. “I knew that I would have a production company making films,” he said.

Forbord’s first documentary, completed in 2000, told the story of modern dance in San Francisco. He is returning to another documentary project he began that year, a film that examines the impact of war and its aftermath on the residents of Sarajevo. He also is raising money for a documentary about film-making in San Francisco.

His company, Rapt Productions, has more than 150 clients in the Bay Area performing arts community, and makes feature-length and short documentaries, dance films, theatrical video design and commercials. Among his honors for video production are the Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Video Design for “Hotel of Memories,” a production of the Deborah Slater Dance Theater; and the Duncan Award in Visual Design for “Motion Study for the Grief Cycle,” a production by Theater Artaud.

He and his wife, Shelley Trott, live in Oakland with their children, Jack and Leila.

For information about the Riverside International Film Festival go to

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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