Writer’s first short film wins international airing

It’s the stuff that screenwriters dream of: The affirmation that their film is worthy of being shared to an international audience.

For Chicago screenwriter Richard Cohen, his dream just became a reality after signing the international rights off to his short film, “Cicero in Winter,” with Shorts International

The film about a lonely widower who rediscovers life through a book club is only about 20 minutes long but stars Chicago actor, Daniel J. Travanti, best known for his role as Captain Frank Furillo in the television drama “Hill Street Blues.”

“Dan gave life to the character that people can relate to,” said Cohen. “We were fortunate to have him in the film.”

When asked how he was able to persuade a multi-Emmy award winning actor to do this indie film, Cohen says it’s a combination of luck and a great script.

“I met Mr. Travanti at an event about eight years ago. When I completed the script, I sent him a copy just to see if there was any interest. He called me and told me that the Cicero character appealed to him and he felt he could contribute something unique to the character.”

When the film was completed, it caught the attention of Shorts International, which runs shorts.TV, a cable and satellite television channel dedicated to short films. The group agreed to broadcast the film in the U.S. This recent agreement will air “Cicero in Winter” internationally for three years.

Cohen is buoyed by the news because this could mean the film will be seen by a wider audience. The hope is, wider viewership could lead to more opportunities to write for broadcast or movies. “Cicero in Winter” is his first film with a nationally known actor. He has written six short-films previously.

Cohen is now setting his sights on the Sundance New Media Writers Lab. He says he was recently informed that one of his scripts for a short-form film is in the running. He thinks that short-form films are the next big thing in the industry. And he may be right as data from firms such as Pew Research show people’s desire to consume a significant amount of videos in short bursts online.

That’s just fine for Cohen who prefers to write short forms. At least until someone knocks at his door asking him to write a feature-length film.

Marita Gomez is a journalist who has written for local and national publications including Time and Good Housekeeping Magazine. She can be reached at maritagomez3@gmail.com.

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