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Knowing how few films are selected as finalists in the annual Redstone Film Festival made inclusion this year that much sweeter for filmmakers Kate Brown and Maura Smith, two former College of Communication teaching assistants.
“I know how many films are submitted on average, as well as how few slots there are for the festival screening,” says Brown (COM’13), director of Our Way Out, a film about two high school students from rival cliques forced to face their differences when paired up for a class assignment. “The judges and the faculty have a tough job of narrowing down and really crafting a festival program.”
“I’m so excited to be in it myself,” says Dear Santa director Smith (COM’13), whose film is the story of a little girl who asks to become a boy for Christmas. “When I was working, I would think how cool it would be to have my film shown at such a big venue.”
The two are among five finalists vying for best picture at tomorrow’s 34th annual Redstone Film Festival, which showcases the most promising work by students and recent grads of COM’s filmmaking and screenwriting programs. The festival, sponsored by media mogul Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), chair of Viacom, will be at the Tsai Performance Center.
Other finalists this year are Paul Villanova (COM’13), director of Octopus, a film about a down-on-his-luck man forced to wrestle an octopus; Jim Dandee (COM’14), director of The Observer, which chronicles a woman’s efforts to maintain a normal relationship with her partner after they become ill; and Yuwen Jiang (COM’13), director of Ears of Cherry, the story of a young girl haunted by a strange voice, who must ultimately deal with her past.
Festival coordinator Jan Egleson, a COM associate professor of the practice of film and television, says the five finalists were chosen from nearly 50 submissions, all originally produced for a COM film, television, or video production class or as a graduate thesis project. The finalists and the winners are selected in a two-step process: a committee of production, screenwriting, and film-studies graduates first whittles down the submissions to a list of finalists, and another panel, comprising film industry professionals, names the winners.
Egleson says the Redstone Film Festival is a public showcase for the very best student work produced for the department. “It is a celebration of our philosophy of filmmaking: collaborative, idiosyncratic, and representing an artistic vision with the highest technical production standards,” he says. “It is the one event during the year where we come together as a filmmaking community to celebrate the work we do and present it to the public.”
The prizes for the first, second, and third place winners are Canon DSLR camera equipment. The winner of the best cinematography award will receive a Canon camera, the best editing award winner will get Avid Media Composer software, and ProTools software goes to the winner of the sound design award. The best screenplay award winner will receive a MacBook Pro computer.
The winners of the Fleder-Rosenberg short screenplay contest, sponsored by screenwriters Gary Fleder (COM’85) and Scott Rosenberg (COM’85), will also be announced at the festival. A check for $1,250 goes to that award’s first prize winner, $750 to the second prize winner, and $500 to the third prize winner.
The recipient of this year’s Adrienne Shelly Production Grant will also be announced at tomorrow’s festival. The $5,000 grant is awarded to a female filmmaker by the Adrienne Shelly Foundation in honor of producer, writer, and actress Shelly (COM’87), best known for her film The Waitress, who was murdered in her New York City apartment in 2006.
Among former Redstone Film Festival winners are Fleder, director of Runaway Jury, Richard Gladstein (CGS’81, COM’83), producer of Pulp Fiction, The Bourne Identity, and Finding Neverland, and Steve Brill (COM’84), screenwriter of The Mighty Ducks.
This year’s winners will be chosen by Ty Burr, a Boston Globe film critic and a COM film and television lecturer; Megan Lovallo (COM’12), whose film Off to the Races won first place at last year’s Redstone Festival; Lewis Wheeler, a Boston-based actor, director, and producer; Emmy-winning cinematographer Paul Goldsmith; and Boston-based filmmaker Robert Patton-Spruill (CGS’92, COM’94), an Emerson College professor.
The Boston Redstone Film Festival is followed in March by Redstone festivals in New York (designed primarily as a showcase for alumni) and Los Angeles (open to both students and alumni). The Redstone Alumni Short Film Competition, with a prize of $500, is part of the Los Angeles festival.
The 34th annual Redstone Film Festival is tomorrow, Wednesday, February 19, at 7 p.m. at the Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Ave. The event is free and open to the public. In previous years the auditorium has been filled to capacity, so it’s best to arrive early.