BU’s Oscars: the Redstone Film Festival
Cinematography, screenplay, sound design awards new this year
Write what you know. Megan Lovallo has heard that advice her whole life, so not surprisingly, she decided to draw on personal experience when she wrote and directed a film. Lovallo’s movie, Off to the Races, is the story of a young woman forced to take care of her 12-year-old brother, and the duo’s subsequent misadventures. The film draws on Lovallo’s relationships with her two sisters and the delicate balance siblings face—tolerating each other because of family ties on the one hand, and trying to turn those relationships into deeper friendships on the other.
The advice has paid off for the young filmmaker: Off to the Races is one of seven finalists in this year’s annual Redstone Film Festival.
“I wrote it really quickly because it came so naturally,” says Lovallo (COM’12), who describes her nomination as the pinnacle of her film career at BU. “I worked so hard to even get into the class where I made the film, and being nominated for the Redstones is validation for all of the late nights and long days.”
The Redstone Film Festival, BU’s version of the Oscars, is sponsored by media mogul Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), chair of Viacom. The annual festival showcases the most promising work by students and recent grads of the College of Communication’s filmmaking and screenwriting programs. This year’s festival will be held on Wednesday, February 20, at the Tsai Performance Center.
Other finalists in the festival are Bill Politis (COM’13), director of Big Kid Little Bike, a documentary about a BMX biker; Michela Smith (COM’14), director of Cul de Sac, a film about the monotony of life in the suburbs; Alvaro Congosto (COM’12), director of The Dress, the story of a young man obsessed with a photograph; Jack Garrett (COM’13), whose spoof Santa Always Checks Twice depicts a grim trip to Santa’s workshop; Jasper Lowe (COM’15), director of The Intruder, about a thief who finds more than he expected; and Phoebe Waldron (COM’12), director of Zareen on a Bridge in the City, a film about a young woman’s struggles in the days leading up to her college graduation.
Festival organizers say the seven finalists were among dozens of submissions, all originally produced for a COM film, television, or video production class or as a graduate thesis project, and were chosen in a two-step process. A committee of production, screenwriting, and film-studies graduates whittles down the submissions to a list of finalists, and another panel, comprising film industry professionals, names the winners. First prize carries an award of $2,000, second prize $1,000, and third prize $500.
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. That award’s first prize winner will receive $1,250, the second prize winner $750, and the third prize winner $500. Festival organizers decided to add three new prizes this year, for best cinematography, best screenplay, and best sound design. Winners in each category receive $500.
This is the second year that the $5,000 Adrienne Shelly Production Grant will be awarded to a female filmmaker by the Adrienne Shelly Foundation. Shelly (COM’87), a producer, writer, and actress, was murdered in her New York City home in 2006. Her best-known film, The Waitress, played at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
Paul Schneider, chair of COM’s department of film and television, says the Redstone Film Festival is the “premier showcase” for student work produced for the department. “It has jump-started the careers of many of our film and television students, with screenings attended and judged by industry professionals here and in Los Angeles,” Schneider says. “Many finalists have gone on to enter and win prestigious film festivals in the United States and around the world.”
Among former Redstone winners are Fleder, director of Runaway Jury, Richard Gladstein (CGS’81, COM’83), producer of The Bourne Identity and Snow White and the Huntsman, and Steve Brill (COM’84), screenwriter of Con Air. Just last year, previous Redstone finalists Josh Safdie (COM’07) and Benny Safdie (COM’08) won a Jury Prize for Short Film at the Sundance Film Festival for The Black Balloon.
This year’s winners will be chosen by Carolyn Pickman, cofounder and director of CP Casting and Acting Studio; filmmaker Lyda Kuth, executive director of the LEF Foundation, a nonprofit that supports contemporary work in film; and Will Lautzenheiser (CAS’96, COM’07), a popular former COM lecturer in screenwriting. The Fleder-Rosenberg short screenplay competition finalists have not yet been announced.
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 33rd annual Redstone Film Festival is Wednesday, February 20, 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. BU Today will feature a story about this year’s winners on Friday, February 22.5 Comments