It’s award season for UNCSA, with honors both here and abroad

by Mark Burger

The awards and accolades just keep piling up at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in Winston-Salem, starting with a national award from the National Education Telecommunications Association (NETA) for UNC-TV’s broadcast of the UNCSA production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, which was broadcast in April.

The NETA award “is a testament to the exceptional work of the faculty, students, staff and alumni who dedicated themselves both to the theatri cal production of Oklahoma! and to its filming,” said Katharine Laidlaw, the executive producer of the stage production who also oversaw its filming, in an official statement. “We are grateful for our partners at UNC-TV, and to the principal sponsors of the film project: the Fletcher Foundation, the Kenan Institute and the Kenan Fund, whose support has allowed the production to achieve this special recognition.”

The UNCSA production, a faithful restaging of the original 1943 Broadway production, was directed by alumnus Terrence Mann (School of Drama ’78) with John Mauceri, at the time the school’s chancellor, serving as musical director and artistic supervisor. Oklahoma! ran April 28- May 5 at the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem and was seen by more than 10,000 people. It grossed over $1 million and generated more than $330,000 in scholarships. More than 400 UNCSA students were involved in the production, which was filmed in high-definition by UNC-TV under the guidance of Emmy-winning director David Stern.

Oklahoma! was one of more than 120 productions from around the nation that competed for the NETA award, in the category of content production. The only other two performances also honored were Alabama Public Television’s We Have Signal: Live from Birmingham and Nine Network of Public Media/St. Louis’ Carmina Burana.

Oklahoma! Was the first UNCSA production to be filmed and aired over UNC-TV, thanks to a $500,000 grant from the AJ Fletcher Foundation in Raleigh, which commits $100,000 each year for five years to bring UNCSA productions to television audiences throughout the region. Last spring’s production of the William Shakespeare classic Much Ado About Nothing and the Spring Dance performances of Swan Lake, Act II and Sophisticated Kingdom will be broadcast next year by UNC-TV.

That’s not the only recent bit of good news and recognition for UNCSA, as the School of Filmmaking student film Molly Under the Moon was selected to be screened at this year’s Munich International Festival of Films Schools, which was held Nov. 11-17.

The film, which was written by Blake Engle and director Zack Strum (both 2012 graduates of the film school), was a collaborative efforts between all five of UNCSA’s arts schools: filmmaking, drama, dance, music, and design and production.

An ethereal fantasy about passion and artistry, the film focuses on a young sculptor torn between whether his passion lies in his work or his love for his girlfriend (that would be Molly). Molly Under the Moon was one of 229 films submitted to the Munich festival by 72 schools in 34 countries. The festival accepted 50 films from 38 film schools in 22 countries. The festival was established in 1981 and has screened more than 3,500 student films over that 30-year span.

“The Munich Film Festival celebrates emerging filmmakers, and it is an honor to have the School of the Arts represented,” said Susan Ruskin, interim dean of the School of Filmmaking, in an official statement. “We are especially pleased as Molly Under the Moon not only represents the film school, but all the conservatories on the UNCSA campus.”

Or, as Martin Moszkowicz, the CEO of Constantin Film, which has produced the Resident Evil film franchise, said: “In Cannes, they buy and sell films. In Munich, they discover them.” (His statement happens to be on the festival’s homepage.)

The film was produced by Nick Holsington (School of Filmmaking ’12) and Anna Rooney (a former graduate student in the School of Design and Production), with Leo Hurley (School of Music ’11) composing the score, which was resorded in the Film Scoring Stage on campus with the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Dwinell (School of Music ’05 high school and ’08 college). Hurley’s score will enjoy its world concert premiere by the symphony on April 27, 2013, again conducted by Dwinell.

For more information about all the goings-on at UNCSA, check out the official website: