The annual Redstone Film Festival, sponsored by Sumner Redstone and Viacom, Inc., was held at the Tsai Performance Center this past Wednesday evening. Over the years, the festival has produced some of America’s most successful producers, directors, and screenwriters.
The festival featured the work of students of BU’s College of Communication, where the Film & TV Department is ranked #11 in The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 25 Film Schools—proving how one can be successful in the film industry without having to be in Hollywood or New York.
The panelist of judges, Ty Burr (film critic of The Boston Globe), Paul Goldsmith (cinematographer), Megan Lovallo (COM’13) (cinematographer and editor at Long Haul Films), Rob Patton-Spruil (COM’94/CLA’92, filmmaker and senior director-in-residence at Emerson College), and Lewis Wheeler (actor, director, and producer) presented the awards to the talented young filmmakers of both graduate and undergraduate BU students. In addition to the short film awards, the judges announced the 2013 winners of the Fleder/Rosenberg Finalists of short screenplay contest. The winners included:
3rd place, $500: Seven Minutes by Jessica Clark
2nd place, $750: Damn Fine Police Work by Alex Koch
1st place, $1250: Leftovers by Luke Shields
$5000 Shelly Foundation Production Grant: Ida’s 85th by Julia Iglesias
After presenting the Fleder/Rosenberg Finalists and their monetary prizes, the audience was presented with the Redstone Finalist Screenings: Octupus by Paul Villanova, Dear Santa by Maura Smith, The Observer by Jim Dandee, Our Way Out by Kate Brown, and Ears of Cherry by Helen Jiang.
The Redstone finalist films were idiosyncratic but appealing. The quality of each film evidenced the time invested. In the first screening, Octupus, the animal fighter Bruno has to face an octopus. However, Bruno soon has to deal with more than just beating his opponent. The score of the film heightens the intensity and pressure Bruno faces. In The Observer, winner of best cinematography, a woman tries to remain a relationship with a man as he falls deeper into illness. Without using obvious special effects, the angles of filming created a wonderfully stark quality.
While some of the films may have been more abstract, there were other films that had more universal messages like identity, self-awareness, and good vs. bad. In Dear Santa, Ann is a young girl who asks Santa to turn her into a boy. In her upcoming ballet performance, while Anne preferred to be an elf, her mother wanted her to be the same as all the other girls dressed up as snowflakes. However, it is the uniqueness that makes Anne shine. In Our Way Out, the main character has to choose whether to stand up for himself or his friends.
Concluding the screenings was the foreign-based film, Ears of Cherry. The protagonist is stuck with a girl from her past and is not able to move on until the girl is gone. Despite the supernatural elements, the execution of the film was natural and flowing; the ending of the film left a rather chilling feeling.
After the last screening, the winners of the Redstone Finalist Screenings were announced:
Best Screenplay: Helen Jiang (Ears of Cherry)
Best Editing: Helen Jiang (Ears of Cherry)
Best Sound Design: Paul Villanova (Octopus)
Best Cinematography: Jim Dandee (The Observer)
1st place: Ears of Cherry by Helen Jiang
2nd place: Our Way Out by Kate Brown
3rd place: Dear Santa by Maura Smith
The Redstone Film Festival not only provides film students a wealth of prizes but also lasting opportunities. In a professional setting, students get to share their work with the BU community and network with the film industry. The prizes of filming equipment and technology (like Canon cameras and a MacBook Pro) push them to continue going beyond the boundaries. No wonder BU is constantly producing the most ambitious students.
The finalists will present screenings again in New York and Los Angeles. In Los Angeles they will compete again, this time being judged by a West Coast panel of industry experts.