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The University of Alabama

UA Student Filmmakers Win Top National Awards

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s telecommunication and film department proved that it boasts some of the best filmmakers in the nation at the 2013 Campus MovieFest award ceremonies, held in Los Angeles.

Students from TCF brought home awards for best film, best director and best editor, competing against thousands of other entries from colleges and universities across the United States.

“Manta,” selected best film in the nation, was produced by Tuscaloosa native Connor Simpson, a May 2013 graduate, who was also named Best Director at the 2013 Campus MovieFest. Campus MovieFest is the world’s largest student film and music festival, according to its website.

In addition, “Manta” was named best overall film in the American Photographic Artists’ 2013 APA Short Video Contest. As winner of this contest, Simpson will receive a $500 cash prize and an audio/visual equipment prize package. A team of students assisted Simpson with the project: Marc Patterson (TCF ’09, Hoover), Alec Barnes (current student, TCF, Fairhope), Justin Rudolph (TCF ’13, Athens), Sumerlin Brandon (art ’11, Birmingham,) and Chris Bellinger (former UA theater student, Pendleton, S.C.).

“Being recognized at an international level feels pretty incredible,” Simpson said. “My team put a ton of hours into this project, and it’s really rewarding to have all their talent and hard work recognized. One of the main things I love about filmmaking is the hugely collaborative environment, so it’s a really awesome feeling to share successes with your friends.”

Alex Beatty, a junior from Orlando, Fla., won best editing for his film “Rise.” He said it has been an honor to see his work recognized in competitions like Campus MovieFest, as well as previously at the Cannes Film Festival.

“I originally chose to come to UA because I was very interested in broadcasting, and UA has a very strong news and broadcasting program,” Beatty said. “Little did I know that I would fall in love with film and not just the technical aspects of it but everything.

“Film has the ability to tell a story just as a book or a news article, but filmmaking takes it even further with being able to develop a visual story that people can see to even further the personal experience, and I have found that I have learned how to do that through UA’s film program. The film program is getting better and better each year with new equipment and the professors that have a passion for film themselves and going beyond the duties of a traditional professor.”

Dr. Rachel Raimist, head of the telecommunication and film department’s production track, said she was proud of the students who worked on the two films.

“It’s amazing to bring home these awards when competing against the top film schools in the nation,” Raimist said. “Winning all three of these in one year is phenomenal and definitely raises the profile of our program.”

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.