Outdoor Film Festival celebrates students’ work

March 19, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

Delia Van Heukelem (left), who starred in “Sink,” accepted the awards it received on behalf of director Kaitlyn Visser.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

It’s no surprise that there is immense talent within the College of Fine Arts and Production’s film program.

So, naturally, the department wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to recognize its students at this year’s Grand Canyon University Film Festival. Seven awards were distributed Thursday night for films ranging from music videos and documentaries to thrillers and dramas.

Matthew Fajardo’s film “Iron Maiden” won for Best Documentary.

Although the festival had a different look this year, taking place on the stage outside of the Fine Arts Building and allowing for festival nominees to have their work viewed virtually (here), students in attendance still dressed to impress and show support for their peers.

Lisa Tervo, Director of the Film Department, said it’s all part of her film students’ mentality to make the most out of a year made uniquely challenging by the pandemic.

“What I really liked about the films we got this year is that I think they represented making lemonade out of lemons,” she said. “There’s so much creativity and so many interesting turns that they took to be able to create these films against so many obstacles that it was amazing to see what they were able to do.

“I really am blown away by the students’ ability to embrace the obstacles that COVID has put forward.”

Kendall Smith, who directed the evening’s best thriller winner, “An Extraordinary Mind,” was grateful to see not only her film gain recognition but also her friends as well.

“I’m mostly just very proud of all my friends, because my friend group, they did ‘Sink’ (Best Faith Film and Best Overall Film), ‘An Extraordinary Mind,’ ‘Iron Maiden’(Best Documentary), and ‘Awake’ (Best Music Video),” she said. “Getting to see all of them winning, too, has been great so that we can all support each other.”

Kendall Smith’s film “An Extraordinary Mind” won for Best Thriller.

Senior Matthew Fajardo, whose documentary “Iron Maiden” won the award in its category, said that having his film recognized at the festival helped motivate him to continue pursuing what he loves.

“I love documentaries, and documentaries are always going to be something that I want to make,” he said. “I really want to share those stories that not a lot of people know of. Doing something like this is just the start of something great for me, I think.”

Alumna Mycah Carter, who directed the Best Alumni Film winner, “Social Oddity,” traveled to campus for the event. After having to overcome a multitude of unforeseen obstacles, one of which was having to finish the film after the nationwide shutdowns had been implemented last year, Carter felt as if the victory was proof that her hard work had paid off.

“It feels really good,” she said. “It was a practicum film from last year, and we all know how last year went, and we actually didn’t get to finish production at all. What we had was just parts of the story and I didn’t have any of my crew to finish any of it for me or my editors, so I’ve just been working on it for the past year.

“It feels good to have something come out of it.”

Despite the modifications made to this year’s festival, Carter expressed a sense of gratitude that the college took the time and effort to make the evening possible and safe for its students.

“I think it’s still awesome that they did it because they could have just said, ‘No Film Festival,’” she said. “It’s the little things I’m really grateful for in a time like this.”

Award winners:

  • Best Alumni Film: “Social Oddity” by Mycah Carter
  • Best Documentary: “Iron Maiden” by Matthew Fajardo
  • Best Drama: “The Way I See You” by Brittany Ha-Nguyen
  • Best Faith Film: “Sink” by Kaitlyn Visser
  • Best Music Video: “Awake” by Elliot Saldivar
  • Best Thriller: “An Extraordinary Mind” by Kendall Smith
  • Best Overall Film: “Sink” by Kaitlyn Visser

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: National film award inspired by late mom’s example

GCU Today: Alum’s sci-fi film wins award at annual festival


About the Author
Leave a Comment