Bostonia is published in print three times a year and updated weekly on the web.
Nothing could stop Borderline at the 37th annual Redstone Film Festival, not even an errant fire alarm in the Tsai Performance Center that temporarily halted the film halfway through its screening.
Despite that five-minute interruption, on March 31 Borderline, directed by Emily Sheehan (COM’15,’16), took home the best film and several technical awards for its gritty depiction of an urban paramedic trapped by her mother’s drug addiction.
“Thank you, all of those who helped with this movie,” Sheehan told the packed crowd during her acceptance speech. “This movie, as you can tell by the monumental length of the credits, was a group effort, with over 100 people involved.”
Sheehan, currently a COM lecturer, is now in preproduction with the film and seeking funding for a feature-length version.
“It was a great night and a real pleasure seeing the film in front of such an enthusiastic audience,” she said after the festival. “I couldn’t think of a better way to end my time as a student at Boston University—surrounded by my wonderful friends, family, and fellow filmmakers.”
Pick Your Own, directed by Wes Palmer (COM’16,’17), a film about a young girl, her widowed father, and inflatable tube people, took second place among the six best picture finalists, and Lipstick Stains, about a teenager and his grandmother, directed by Josh Jason (COM’17), came in third.
Best sound design went to David Murillo (composer), Brooke Yap (sound designer), and Gonzalo Perez (sound mixer), all 2016 Berklee College of Music grads, for their work on Borderline. The best editing category saw a tie between Borderline, edited by Sheehan, Palmer, and Tara Kavanaugh (COM’16), and Pick Your Own, edited by Xander Marzella (COM’17) and Emma Platek (COM’16). Kavanaugh also earned the best cinematography prize for Borderline. Best screenplay went to Luke Shields (COM’14) for Pick Your Own.
That film earned the most vocal audience reaction of the night, evoking laughter and “awwws.” “It was really cool listening to you guys watch it,” screenwriter Shields told the audience as he picked up his award.
“We’ve been editing Pick Your Own for about a year and a half, and only sharing it with close friends, family, and professors,” Palmer said later. “While the response had been positive, there’s absolutely no substitute for sitting down with a crowd of 500-plus strangers and watching them collectively respond to each and every emotional beat we spent so much time designing on the page, crafting on set, and honing in the edit.” A Kickstarter drive to raise production funds for Palmer’s next project has already started.
All of the works shown in the festival, which is sponsored by media mogul Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), were originally created for a COM film, television, or video production class or as a graduate thesis project. Among the competition’s prizes were Canon cameras and accessories, Avid and ProTools software, and MacBook Pro computers.
The other festival finalists were Ramon Torres (COM’16), whose film, Over His Dead Body, is about an aspiring singer hoping to reconnect with her family in the wake of her father’s death; Eric Moots (COM’17), whose short, Overdue, is the story of a young man looking for love; and Derin Kiyak, whose sci-fi film, Instincts, is set in the near future.
The winners of the Fleder-Rosenberg short screenplay contest, sponsored by director Gary Fleder (COM’85) and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg (COM’85), were presented by Scott Thompson, a COM assistant professor of film and director of the screenwriting program. The first place prize of $1,500 was awarded to The Nesting Doll, screenplay by Emily Kochman (COM’17), story by Kochman and Jeffrey Palmer (COM’17); the second place prize of $1,000 went to Speed Queen, screenplay by Betsy Floyd (COM’17), story by Floyd and Jingru Yang (COM’17); and the $750 third place prize was given to Simon and Freddie, screenplay and story by Edd Howarth (COM’18).
The $5,000 Adrienne Shelly Production Grant, awarded annually to a project by a female filmmaker, was given to Tuck, a graduate thesis project by director Rachel Walden (COM’16,’17), with a script by Nadia Cross (COM’17). The Adrienne Shelly Foundation established the annual award in honor of producer, writer, and actress Shelly (COM’87), best known for her film The Waitress, later adapted into a Broadway musical. Shelly was murdered in her New York City apartment in 2006.
The night began with a brief tribute to the late Bill Linsman, a COM associate professor of film and television and director of BU’s Los Angeles Internship Program, who died last December at age 71. “He helped the careers of countless students who went out there and are now doing great work,” said Paul Schneider, a COM professor of the practice of television and film and department chair. “He will be sorely missed.”
The night’s running joke played on the now infamous gaffe at this year’s Oscars ceremony, when presenters Faye Dunaway (CFA’62) and Warren Beatty were given the wrong envelope and announced the wrong Best Picture winner. “Instead of reading the wrong category, I was reading my phone bill,” Thompson joked at the podium, discarding the “wrong” envelope. Later, Schneider said that the one thing he could promise about the Redstones was that “La La Land will not win.”