Students Win Top Honors at International Film Competition

TAMPA, Fla. (June 15, 2009) A team of student filmmakers led by University of South Florida student Sarah Wilson has won the top honor, the Best Picture Award, at the 2009 International Campus MovieFest Grand Finale for its film, “Rhapsody.” The Grand Finale Awards presentation was held at the Paramount Theater at Paramount Studios in Hollywood on Friday, June 12. Campus MovieFest is the world’s largest student film festival and a premier outlet for rising filmmakers.


Wilson and her team were selected for the award from among the top 46 films from Campus MovieFest competitions held at universities across the country. Approximately 75,000 students from 56 colleges and universities participated in this year’s competition.


Campus MovieFest representatives visited campuses last fall inviting young filmmakers to participate and providing all the equipment needed to produce a short film in one week. The student-run Campus Activities Board helped bring Campus MovieFest to USF.


The award-winning team included mass communications majors Sean Brown, Dylan Tozier, Emily Wilson, Sealii King and Kimmy Saracino; biomedical science majors Dan Nyugen, Joyce Yong and Trey Penton; theater performance majors Shannan Stewart and Nick Horan; elementary education major Kailey Mires; undeclared major Daniel Wang; and religious studies major Alan Kouns.

 This is the second consecutive year that one of Wilson’s films was screened at the International Grand Finale. Both this year’s entry, “Rhapsody,” and last year’s, “Focus,” were winners of “Best Picture” honors at the school level. Both years, her team’s work then competed against 800 to 1,000 other films from throughout the Southeast to receive the Southern Regional Grand Finale’s “Best Picture.”  Supported by the USF Honors College and the Office of Undergraduate Research, the team was able to attend the 2009 screening and receive their award in person during a red carpet awards ceremony.


As writer, director and producer, Wilson was responsible for the film’s story concept, storyboard, script editing, talent casting, production, editing, music design and sound effects. The team comprised a number of USF students including Dan Nguyen, Sean Brown, Joyce Yong and Trey Penton.


A senior majoring in mass communications, Wilson said, “Representing USF to the nation while beating out competition from some of the country’s most prestigious film schools was awesome. There were so many other completely amazing films. Considering the extreme level of craftsmanship and talent we were up against, this is an extreme honor.”


Born and raised in Tampa, Fla., Wilson has been producing her own films, music videos and promotional videos and documentaries since the age of 16. In both 2008 and 2007 she was selected as the first-place winner in Bridgestone/Firestone Tire’s national “Safety Scholars” contest.


Currently in its seventh year, Campus MovieFest has grown to include 150,000 students around the globe. This year’s judges, film industry leaders, included: Shane Black, Rip Torn, Amy Ryan, Mo Rocca, Donal Logue, Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, Jon Landau, Liz Friedlander, John Scurti, Scott Adsit, Noah Emmerich, Vincent Kartheiser, and Ana Gasteyer.


"I was blown away by the talent and creativity showcased at Campus MovieFest," said event host Scott Adsit from NBC's 30 Rock.


"We're honored to have the opportunity to showcase this amazing student talent to the world," said David Roemer, co-founder of Campus MovieFest.


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.



 Story by Mary Beth Erskine, University Communications & Marketing