As the manager of the Kodak Scholarship Program, I was fortunate enough this year to be able to screen the films of the top student nominations to the 2011 program, and to listen in on the judging session as the judges passionately debated who should be amongst the final five. All judges – a faculty member, a Kodaker and a veteran industry professional - had their favourites and it was a tough decision to come up with the ultimate winners.
Renowned Cinematographer Robbie Greenberg ASC stated; “The quality of work being done by these students is outstanding. The seriousness and poignancy of the subject matter the students explored was also impressive.” I had to agree with Robbie as I found the stories to be deeply personal and emotionally complex.
“The Mill” tells the story of an elderly man forced to commit an unspeakable act to spare his sick wife from an existence of misery. As a result of his actions, he must remove himself from his community and his only link to the outside world is through the village priest. This priest has another agenda as he wants no secrets amongst his “sheep”.
“While I Breathe” tackles a horrific topic that is all too common. It tells an intimate story about human trafficking and how one chance meeting between two people changes their lives forever. Filmed on the streets of Vancouver, the audience is shown a glimpse of a brutal world that is a reality for many young girls.
“Cake” focuses on a disease that many families with aging parents are faced with. The film captures a day in the life of a daughter caring for her mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. We witness the daughter’s delight as her mother, Violet, has a moment of clarity and connects with her daughter in a way that is all too infrequent.
Cake from Nina Eve on Vimeo.
I must admit that these were not the type of films that I expected from a student competition. The maturity of the content and the level of skill required to tell these stories was far beyond my expectations. I was also impressed by the quality of the craft of filmmaking; the cinematography, directing, and editing were all exceptional. These nominated students represent the best of the best that the world has to offer.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Kodak Scholarship Program, here is a quick recap from our Press Release:
The Kodak Scholarship Program is an annual, international competition designed to recognize superior filmmaking skills and creativity of the next generation. This year’s program was a truly international affair with the winners representing five different countries, Czech Republic, Canada, South Africa, USA and Mexico:
- Gold Award: Robert Hlozanka, from the Tomas Bata University in Zlin in the Czech Republic for The Mill. The award includes a $5,000 Kodak motion picture film product grant and a $1,500 cash tuition award.
- Silver Award: Laura Good from the University of British Columbia in Canada for While I Breathe. The award includes a Kodak motion picture film grant valued at $4,000 and a $1,000 cash tuition award.
- Bronze Award: Nina Slabber from AFDA: The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance for Cake. The award comes with a grant of $3,000 in Kodak motion picture film and a $500 cash tuition award.
- Honorable Mention: Yaasib Vasquez Colmenares from Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica in Mexico for Que Importa Corazon. This award includes a $2,000 grant for Kodak motion picture film.
So, as I write this blog and summarize my own experience with these films and these emerging filmmakers, I have to say that I am comforted. The future of our industry is in good hands as these up and coming filmmakers are positioned very well to succeed in the “dog eat dog world” of the movies.