‘Composer’ is big winner in GCU Film Festival
By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
Ethington Theatre was the scene of a real-life drama Sunday about student-produced dramas — as well as comedies, music videos, animated features, documentaries and films about faith.
Like the stars of the big screen at the 2016 Academy Awards last month, participants in the GCU Film Festival waited anxiously as hosts announced winners in eight categories and replayed the winning films throughout the evening.
And even though there was no red carpet this year — a detail that might change in 2017 — the creators and actors of nearly 40 nominated films were dressed to the nines and illuminated by the sparkling glow of camera flashes.
Event co-hosts Tyler McDonald and Laura Donohue, president and vice president, respectively, of the Digital Film Club, added their own comedic elements and drew out long, expectant pauses before announcing the two main awards, Best of Festival and Audience Choice, swept by a film called “The Composer.”
But first, here’s a look at the winners of the six main categories and the students who created them:
- Animation: “Woodrow,” by David Kormann.
- Comedy: “Alibi,” by Elliott de Neve.
- Documentary: “Just Go,” by Logan Laurian.
- Drama: “Operation Marriage,” by Maya James.
- Faith: “The Jump,” by Cuahtemoc Lara.
- Music Video: “Elastic Heart – Performance Style Music Video,” by Janet Garcia Trujillo.
Like many GCU endeavors, faith in God was a theme throughout the films, and others carried positive messages.
For example, the winning animation film, “Woodrow,” is about a small wooden mannequin who, like his wooden buddies, is stuck in place by a pole on a stand. Into their midst a large, golden, Oscar-type statuette is placed.
While Woodrow’s friends are in awe of the glittering new object, he is too far away to get near the trophy. He falls, he crawls. And, unexpectedly, he is free from the pole.
“FREEEEEDOM!” is written across the next screen shot, a device commonly used in silent films.
The wooden comrades now turn their adoration from the golden prize to Woodrow.
“You’re amazing, pal,” is written across the next scene.
Kormann said the point of the short film was to carry a message: “Anyone can be amazing.”
The winning documentary, “Just Go,” features two GCU students who travel to Yosemite National Park one weekend on $100. Their message is that any GCU student can just go on a potentially life-altering trip.
The film documents their journey, which at times draws the travelers to the brink of despair, particularly when they’re hitchhiking and no one stops to pick them up. They turn to prayer, and their prayers are answered, showing how God will protect those who seek Him.
Co-host Donohue said later, “We have the unique opportunity to express our faith through film.”
The biggest categories were reserved until the end of the night, when hosts announced the Best of Festival and Audience Choice winners.
When “The Composer” by Andrew Peterson was announced as the winning film in both categories, the audience burst into cheers and applause.
“The Composer” is a gripping story about love, told through the haunting notes of an original score. As the composer’s fingers press the piano keys, the emotional drama unfolds.
As Peterson gripped his statue he said, “I didn’t do this alone,” and thanked about a dozen people without whose help the movie would not have come to life.
“The Composer” cast and crew included:
- Peterson, director and co-writer of screenplay and score
- Cody Carlson, director of photography and screenplay co-writer
- Graham Harper, score co-writer
- Kormann, actor
- Jenae Gacionne, actor
- Alyssa Jenson, actor
In other acknowledgements, a video was shown honoring this year’s graduating digital film students from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. And a huge round of applause went to Lisa Tervo, GCU’s digital film program director.
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.