By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
A battle for a girl’s phone number after a bicycle ride through the ’burbs won student filmmaker Elliott de Neve the Best of Festival Award at the Grand Canyon University Film Festival – one of three awards for de Neve.
Judges named “The Distance,” a re-imagined version of the 1990s music video by the band Cake, as the three-day fest’s top film. It also won the Best Music Video category. And his submission “I’m So Glad We’re Friends,” about a $7 pawn shop TV and the guy who purchased it, won Best Comedy.
This was the second consecutive year de Neve took home the top honor, nabbing Best of Festival in 2017 for his futuristic comedy about alternative selves, “Ralph Finds his Place in the Universe.”
De Neve did not attend Sunday night’s awards ceremony in Ethington Theatre, so his friend, David Korman, accepted the trophies on his behalf.
“He’s shooting a film right now,” Korman said.
Here are the winners in the other six categories:
Alumni: “Only the Number Seven,” written and directed by Bethany Libby, produced by Jillian Moore, submitted by Brenton Ekstrand
Documentary: “Begin” by Nikki Shadden
Thriller: “Laundry Day” by Trevor Wilch
Faith: “Never Alone” by Matthew Wagner
Drama: “Sleep Not,” directed by Brennan Moore and submitted by Trevor Wilch
Animation: “Portals” by Kaitlyn Terrey, Sara Vosburgh, Maggie Burt, Hannah Zemlock
This is the fourth year for the revamped GCU Film Awards, which used to be a one-day event but now spans three days at Ethington.
More than 30 short films, 10 minutes long or less, were submitted.
Shadden’s documentary, “Begin,” explores what drives artists and if they ever feel they’re not good enough.
“Don’t give up on doing what you want to do,” Shadden said in her acceptance speech. “… You’re good enough. Just believe in yourself and that you can do it.”
Wilch’s “Laundry” turned perhaps the most mundane of chores on its ear. What really goes on inside that washing machine, anyway?
Wagner’s Best Faith film followed single mom Jasmine Mitchell, who was married at age 19, diagnosed with Stage 4 endometriosis and was abandoned by her husband two years ago after she learned he had been having a long-term affair. The short film showed Mitchell’s faith through all those trials – a faith she maintains despite her challenges.
“A lot of times in life, things don’t always go as planned,” Wagner said in his acceptance speech. “… Still, we can use bad situations for good.”
The drama “Sleep Not” follows a student after the death of a friend who keeps getting phone calls from a “special” phone, with the voice on the other end asking him to never leave her and never go to sleep.
And “Portals” follows a woman who, through a magical pencil, is transported to the world of animation. She walks through door after door into different types of animation styles.
Awards ceremony hosts were Zane Courtney and Caleb Davidson, who performed skits to introduce each of the winning films and introduced a tribute to the graduating Digital Film students. Judges were Digital Film instructors Brian Gerber, Scott Lairson, Scott Pfister and Chuck Banaszewski, as well as industry professionals Dan Brown, Curtis Thurber and Michael Pang.
The festival was presented by the College of Fine Arts and Production’s Digital Film department.
You can reach Grand Canyon University senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults at 602-639-7901 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.