An inspiring short film by filmmaker Jessie Beers-Altman about athletes over age 75 was awarded second place in the NBC Sports short-form film contest CPTR’D earlier this month. Beers-Altman’s film Going the Distance is about a group of elderly athletes competing in a 100-meter race at the annual Penn Relays, the longest running US annual track meet. The Boston-based filmmaker, freelance editor, and former Redstone Film Festival finalist says she plans to use her prize of top-of-the-line camera gear to shoot her next (much younger) subject—her month-old son.
Another COM alum, BU Productions producer and editor Bill Politis (COM’13), took home third prize—$1,000 cash—for his film The Powerlifter, about Molly Kelly (CAS’15), who can execute a 300-pound squat, a 315-pound deadlift, and a 135-pound bench. Originally run on BU Today last May, the story of how Kelly used the sport to help her overcome an eating disorder resonated with viewers. Politis won the best cinematography award at the 2014 Los Angeles Redstone Film Festival.
The CPTR’D contest was open to filmmakers who had produced a sports-related video of 10 minutes or less over the past two years. Winners were determined by a combination of votes from the public and input from a panel of judges, among them Access Hollywood anchor Billy Bush and SB Nation editorial director Spencer Hall, and were announced at a CPTR’D viewing party at the NBC Sports Lawn in Austin, Tex., March 12.
The $10,000 first prize was awarded to Sandra Chuma and Nyasha Kadandara, whose film Queens and Nights is the story of an LGBTQ rugby team that challenged perceptions of masculinity and athleticism through camaraderie and acceptance.
It may be a coincidence that two COM alums placed in the top 5 out of more than 920 submissions, but the news didn’t surprise Beers-Altman, a COM lecturer currently on maternity leave. “The people that picked these films had no connection to BU, and had no idea we were both from BU,” she says. “It’s a good accomplishment for our school.” Just placing in the competition is a big honor, she says, and it helped celebrate what she calls the marriage of two major forces in her life, her career and her new son.
While Politis was understandably disappointed to come home without an extra $10,000, he says the contest has pushed him to get started on his next film, which he is keeping top secret for the time being. Along with third prize, he came back from Texas with another souvenir: a sunburn courtesy of Austin’s hot sun.