Columbia College Chicago in the Spotlight

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Awards season is not limited to Hollywood. Just recently, the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) hosted the 2013 Emerging Filmmaker Awards. The event featured an eclectic group of Columbia College Chicago filmmakers…yours truly included. I don’t usually do the whole self-promotion thing, but it’s appropriate in this case. Out of over fifty submissions, eleven were finalists and two were mine. I was so happy I pulled a muscle patting myself on the back.

The event was about the ideas coming out of Columbia, and it’s a big deal to have the CFCA recognize your work. Sometimes, artists are so intimately familiar with their own work that they forget to let others interpret it for themselves. It can be so rewarding when an artist realizes someone else “get’s it.”

There was an interesting mix of films: five live-action films, four animated, one documentary, and one experimental. My films included my roller derby documentary and my experimental piece called “After Image.”

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Each film was given a warm introduction by a critic and then shown in one of the theaters at the Muvico Theater in Rosemont. I think all filmmakers understand how special it is to screen your work in front of a live audience on the big screen.

The evening ended with the judges recognizing the top three films: Bowls of Water, The Tree House, and the winner of the evening, Play Date. All three of the films were excellent. The third place film, Bowls of Water, dramatized the tough choices made by those fleeing Hurricane Katrina. This film was beautifully shot, and it was amazing how they made the Chicago suburbs look like hurricane ravaged Louisiana. The second place film, The Tree House, was an imaginative tale about a boy coping with the loss of his mother by confiding in a quirky neighbor. The performances by the child actors were off the charts. The winner was the animated short Play Date. In this film, the imaginations of a little boy and girl collide on the playground. Here is a copy of one of the original story reels from the project. Click to find out more about their project.

I loved how they animated iconic movie adventure scenes and incorporated them into the story. All three of those films were deserving of the grand prize, which is a testament to the quality of the work.

At the end of the day, the team behind The Play Date walked away with a $5000 prize and satisfaction of a job well done. However, I think every filmmaker walked away with more pride in their work and more confidence as they move forward as artists.