By Samantha Adams
The film “Enough,” created collaboratively by members of the Union Film Society, swept the awards at the 8th annual Union University Student Film Festival, held March 28–29 in Union’s theater and Barefoots Joe.
The festival gives students the opportunity to share their work with an audience and began Monday night with a screening of the 14 submitted films, followed by interviews with the students who directed them. The submissions included four documentaries, eight short-form films and two long-form films.
The audience cast votes on their favorite submission before leaving the theater. The student-choice award was revealed along with the rest of the awards the next night at the awards ceremony. The film “Enough” won the award. Before handing out the certificates and trophies, Odd and Grete Hynnekleiv, guest filmmakers from Norway, spoke and the audience viewed the films again.
“Enough,” an approximately 30-minute-long film, tells the story of a diner waitress and a construction worker who fall in love, get married, lose their jobs and eventually become homeless. The story explores how long the love for someone can endure lack of worldly possessions and acceptance by others.
The story is based on a true story, said Tyler Litton, co-screenwriter and director of the film. He said making the film with some professionals and other students was a good, stretching experience.
“I can’t thank everyone who was involved (in the production) enough,” Litton said.
The collaborators received several awards for their work on “Enough”:
• They received $100 for the Student Activities Council Student Choice award.
• Litton and Rachel Kapavik, Union alumnus, won best screenplay and an additional $200.
• Heather Nicholas, junior theater and speech major, won best female dramatic performance for her lead role as the wife.
• Blake Staples, a Union alumnus who graduated in 2000 with a degree in theater, won best male dramatic performance for his lead role as the husband.
• Treasure Hightower, junior digital media studies major, and Jeff Thompson, sophomore digital media studies major, won best production design.
• Nigel Manuel, senior media communications major, won best editing.
• Justin McEachron, junior English major, won best cinematography.
• Chad Hoy, junior theater/speech major, was one of four people who together won best supporting performance.
• The film also won best use of music.
The award money will be used to enter the film into other film festivals, Litton said. The top-three festivals they hope to enter are the Jackson, Memphis and Nashville film festivals, Kapavik said. Both Litton and Kapavik emphasized that the film shown at the festival was a first-cut and the film editing was not complete.
While “Enough” won many awards, several other films received awards as well.
“The Elopement,” a “mockumentary” of a couple’s elopement, won the best short-form film award. Josh Garcia, junior English major, directed the film while he was studying in Los Angeles last semester. The film also received the best original score award and the best title design award for its use of graphics.
“Nerf Wars,” submitted by Ben Haws, sophomore media communications major, won the award for best documentary, which showed the battles with Nerf guns that take place on Friday nights in Jennings Hall.
The award for best choreography went to the short-form film “Beowulf vs. Grendel,” submitted by Haws.
The short-form film “Making All Things New Film Series,” submitted by Caleb Stallings, senior media communications major, won the best voiceover award.
The award for best female comedic performance went to Savannah Mealer, sophomore history major, for her lead role as a girl on an unsuccessful first date in “iDate,” submitted by Manuel.
The award for best male comedic performance went to Alex Evans, senior French major, for his lead role as a Union student asking another student out on a date in “Look Alikes.” The film was submitted by several students who had made it as a class project.
Odd and Grete Hynnekleive, the guest speakers from Norway, said they noticed a theme of young love in the films, many of which depicted relationships and marriage as difficult or unsuccessful.
They gave constructive criticism to the directors of each film and encouraged the filmmakers in the audience to tell stories.
The Hynnekleives, who began making films separately and together in the 1980s, traveled to Union’s film festival from Los Angeles, where they were showing their latest film titled “Yohan.” They had heard about Union and its film festival from Dr. Gregory Thornbury, dean of the School of Theology and Missions, when he recently taught in Norway.
The first special guests at a Union film festival, the Hynnekleives asked the directors of each submission questions after the first viewing of their films and shared about their experience in filmmaking during an interview with Thornbury the next night.
They had high praise for the students who worked on “Enough,” “The Elopement” and other submissions. They encouraged the filmmakers to continue making art.
“(Filmmaking) is hard, but it’s fun at the same time,” Odd Hynnekleive said. “Success is defined by the fulfillment of the goal you set out to achieve.”