Clean sweep for UNCSA editing students

In the past few days, we’ve seen the Academy Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards and even the Razzies present their accolades – in the case of the Razzies, their raspberries – to those filmmakers deemed worthy of such praise.

Closer to home, the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) enjoyed a clean sweep at the annual competition of the American Cinema Editor (ACE) student editing awards – making it the first school to do so.

Chris Dold, a third-year student, took home top honors (the special Student Award), presented by Star Wars and Star Trek filmmaker JJ Abrams. The other finalists were Aneesa Mahboob, a fourth-year undergraduate, who was also an ACE finalist last year (the first UNCSA finalist in the school’s history), and Emily Rayl, also a fourth-year undergraduate. Mahboob and Rayl receives plaques, and all three students spent their West Coast visit touring production facilities and editing suites with their faculty mentors and enjoying a dinner with UNCSA alumni now working in Los Angeles.

Each year, hundreds of students are nominated by their universities and compete by editing the same set of video dailies. The entries are then judged by a panel of professional editors, with the three finalists invited to the annual ACE Eddie Awards ceremony, which was held this year at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, Cal.

The students were accompanied by editing faculty members Julian Semilian and Michael Miller, and adjunct faculty member Eric Strand.

“We are filled with elation about our ACE student finalists and winner,” said Semilian in an official statement. “When I began working here in 1998, I resolved to make our school the best picture-editing and sound-design school in the world. We have been super-fortunate to attract the level of students such as Aneesa, Chris and Emily. To sweep the ACE student editing competition is an unprecedented achievement.”

Miller, a newcomer to the UNCSA faculty, added: “What’s so exciting about the editing department at UNCSA’s School of Filmmaking is an approach that encourages students and faculty to view undergraduate projects not as ‘student films,’ but as films that can compete with the work of professionals. ‘Student’ work is never treated as ‘good enough.’ We work it until it’s great.”

For more information about the goings-on at UNCSA, visit the official website: www.

EYES ON THE SKIES The mystery of the “Phoenix Lights” has long baffled observers and scientific experts, and long been considered among the most important instances of UFO phenomena in history. On March 13, 1997, strange lights were spotted in the sky, and four residents from the Phoenix area vanished without a trace.

Now, this real-life mystery is addressed in the science-fiction thriller The Phoenix Incident, which will make its theatrical premiere as presented by Fathom Events for one show only – 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 10 – at hundreds of theaters nationwide, including the Greensboro Grande 16 in Greensboro.

The film marks the feature debut of writer/producer/director Keith Arem, a native of Arizona who has long been fascinated by the reports of UFO sightings, many of which have made headlines the world over. Arem’s previous credits have been primarily in the gaming industry, having directed such popular video games as Call of Duty, The Amazing Spider-Man, Tony Hawk: Shred, Darksiders, Infex, Ghost Recon and many others.

Troy Baker, James L. Brewster, James C. Burns, Holgie Forrester and Karl Girolamo head the cast of this thriller, which was filmed on location in Phoenix were the sightings – and disappearances – actually took place nearly 20 years ago, and includes interviews with those who actually saw the Phoenix Lights.

In his review for, Ben Rayner wrote: “The Phoenix Incident creates an intriguing movie experience … offering tense moments of horror and blurring the truth until my skull was sore from scratching it so damn much! This is a great debut for the video-game veteran (Arem) and one which fans of sci-fi, horror movies, or a decent conspiracy about government coverups should definitely invest some time in watching.” !


The Phoenix Incident will be screened 7:30 pm Thursday, March 10 at Greensboro Grande Stadium 16, 3205 Northline Ave., Greensboro. Tickets are $16.01 (general admission) and $13.34 (AARP members). For advance tickets or more information, you can also visit the official Fathom Events website: www.FathomEvents. com. The official Phoenix Incident website is