Sandro Del Rosario describes himself as a filmmaker and animator. He does not work within typical industry frameworks, or with typical film characters, but his work is gaining recognition in the local arts community. His eight-minute short film, L.City, won the James River Shorts competition, hosted by the James River Film Society in December 2012.
“This film is an homage to photography,” Del Rosario says. “Black and white films and film noir were also inspirations. The film did not start out as a personal story, but ended up being heavily influenced by my love story, loss of love, and love still there.”
Del Rosario says he started the film when he was still an M.F.A. student, and spent a total of three years working on it. His work is labor-intensive and mostly independently funded.
“The film is lyrical rather than a narrative, has various animations of thousands of small cutout photographs, and was produced on 16-mm film,” Del Rosario says. “There is no computer work or digital animation, and I designed the soundtrack myself.”
Born in Italy, Del Rosario studied graphic design and photography at a time when “the web was just starting to catch on.” He was a graphic designer looking to start his own company with friends when he decided to apply for a Fulbright grant. Two years later he received word he received the grant, and Del Rosario moved to America to pursue an M.F.A. in experimental animation from the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles.
But Del Rosario says his true passion lies in teaching. He has taught K-12 in various states, and in 2011, he began a semester-long visiting professorship at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., a position he now holds at the University of Richmond. This spring, Del Rosario is teaching three classes — introduction to film and video: space and time, fine arts animation, and an interdisciplinary class focusing on video production and installation. The former will have installation shows after spring break. While each class features a different focus, all maintain an undertone of film and animation.
While Del Rosario spends most days in the front of the classroom, he hasn’t given up a place behind the camera. His films are independently funded and pursued on his own time, but Del Rosario says the past two years, between teaching and his film work, have been the most fulfilling of his career. In addition to L. City, Del Rosario is working on a project, Lo Sguardo Italiano, which translates as The Italian Gaze, a project he started in 2005. The short film includes thousands of painted photographs, which are animated to form a lyrical storyline.