History alum winning acclaim for second feature film

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Cary Joji Fukunaga  (Photo by Eniac Martinez)

UC Santa Cruz alumnus Cary Joji Fukunaga has definitely avoided the sophomore slump.

As a first-time director, he received the best "Directing, U.S. Drama" award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival for his debut feature film Sin Nombre.

Fukunaga-who graduated from UCSC in 1999 with a B.A. in history--wrote and directed Sin Nombre, based on his own firsthand experiences with Central American immigrants seeking a better life in the U.S.

Two years later, he has followed that auspicious beginning with Jane Eyre, Fukunaga’s own take on the classic 1847 novel by Charlotte Bronte—a book that has already been adapted to the silver screen at least a dozen times before.

The new film--starring Australian actress Mia Wasikowska (Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are Alright) and Irish actor Michael Fassbender (Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, HBO’s Band of Brothers)—has been creating quite a buzz in the film world.

Below is just a sampling of the reviews Fukunaga’s latest film has generated in the past few weeks:

• “Cary Joji Fukunaga has reanimated a classic for a new generation, letting Jane Eyre resonate with terror and tenderness.” --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, (March 2011)

• “A splendid example of how to tackle the daunting duty of turning a beloved work of classic literature into a movie.”  --A.O. Scott, New York Times, (March 2011)

• “Cary Joji Fukunaga has very likely surpassed all previous cinematic versions of Jane Eyre." –Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com (March 2011)

• “Using Brontë's text as the basis for an inquiry into free will versus servitude, Fukunaga mounts a subtly shaded, yet emotionally devastating, examination of what it really means to choose one's own way.”  --Karina Longworth, Village Voice, (March 2011)

• “Fukunaga’s film is exquisitely emotionally calibrated to call forth a single beautiful flower of love out of the cold gray hard ground of 19th century England.” --Wallace Baine, Santa Cruz Sentinel (March 2011).