DGA honors a trio of talented young UNCSA filmmakers

by Mark Burger

’Tis the season for giving and receiving, and at the UNCSA School of Filmmaking in Winston-Salem, three young filmmakers have been recognized by no less an institution than the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

The Student Film Awards are designed to honor female and minority filmmakers from select film schools and universities around the nation.

“This is great news,” said Susan Ruskin, the dean of the School of Filmmaking, in an official statement. “To have three students winning jury awards in one year is testament to the talent of our students, the quality of our program, and the expertise of our faculty.”

Added Paris Barclay, DGA president: “We congratulate all the winners of this year’s DGA Student Film Awards. The intent of our DGA Student Film Awards is to shine a spotlight on promising new talent while continuing to encourage diversity in the entertainment industry. We’re honored to call attention to these exciting new voices and we congratulate them on a job well done.”

The three winners are Jeremiah Cullen, a senior from West Jefferson; Julie Koegl of Statesville, who graduated in 2013; and Andreas Guzman, who hails from Bois LeRoi, France and also graduated earlier this year. Their films will be screened at the awards presentation Wednesday in New York City.

Cullen directed Baldwin, a third-year film that won the DGA Jury Award for Best African-American Student Filmmaker. This futuristic drama focuses on a bereaved young boy who has recently lost his mother and is unable to establish an emotional connection with his distant father. The boy learns about humanity and compassion from his robot butler, the titular Baldwin.

Baldwin was produced by Sam Newsome, a senior from Raleigh, and pro duced by Ashlee Franklin, a senior from Harrisburg. The film was previously screened at the Real to Reel Film Festival in Kings Mountain and the Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington.

Koegl wrote and directed her fourth-year film, What Remains, which won in the Best Woman Student Filmmaker category. The film follows a young couple that decides to adopt a baby, but when the wife is unexpectedly killed in an accident, the husband must decide whether to go through with the adoption by himself. The film was produced  by 2013 graduates Julia Festa of Fayetteville and Daniel Parra of Indian Trail and senior Bernice Miller of Winston-Salem. What Remains was also screened at the Real to Reel Film Festival, as well as the Asheville Film Festival.

Guzman wrote and directed his fourthyear film, Remy, winner of the Best Latino Student Filmmaker category. The central character is a twenty-something slacker living in North Carolina whose violent tendencies are awakened after an altercation with a gay couple. The film, which was produced by 2013 graduate Brandon White of Winston-Salem, has also been screened at the Cucalorus Film Festival.

Baldwin, What Remains and Remy all premiered at UNCSA in May during the student film screenings on campus.

The total of three DGA awards in one year marks a new high for the School of Filmmaking. In 2007, Jesse Pilkes won for  Nest of Spiders, in 2008 Marco Garcia won for his film 1915, and in 2010 Alex Moratto won for The Other Side. Pilkes and Garcia are both 2008 graduates in. Moratto graduated in 2010. !