RBIFF - The Fierberg Award

Last year at the 83rd Academy Awards, Delaware-native Luke Matheny won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. His film God of Love was his thesis project at New York University. Matheny's look, personality and exuberance when he took the stage catapulted not only him but also the idea of short films and for that matter student films. Yes, the Academy has its own separate recognition of student films, but it's rare that a student film itself makes it onto the main show. It's just proof of the talent that is present in schools and universities like NYU. This is something that is not lost at the 15th Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival. The Morris and Roslyn Fierberg Student Film Award honors just that. A review panel consisting of a graduate student, a film professor, an independent filmmaker and a Fierberg family representative, as well as a member of the Rehoboth Beach Film Society looked at 14 submissions from students in 8 states and decided who among them would receive a first-place prize of $1,000 and a honorable mention prize of $250. The films of those two winners and three other finalists screen at the festival on Saturday evening.

At first place is Yale graduate Sarah Rosen who submitted her film Food of Love that perhaps capitalizes on not only the similarities in the title to Matheny's film but also on some themes. Her 17-minute film explores the secret life of a female baker akin to Walter Mitty. The honorable mention is DeSales University senior Dan Baxter who submitted his film Junk Man that has a main character named Ron who in the sketchiest of ways reminded me of Roc, a 90s sitcom on FOX about a city garbage collector and his family who integrated or found ways to sell the very trash he faced everyday. Baxter's 16-minute movie has Ron in Indiana perhaps take that idea a bit further.

Greg Jones, the Education and Outreach Coordinator who was a part of the review panel, gave me his impression of the two winners. He said the caliber of the submissions was remarkably high. He noted that someone sent the review panel a musical that actually had original music and a high school student sent them a love story set on a remote island. Yet, I asked him what made Sarah Rosen's film and Dan Baxter's film stand above all that caliber. Jones said that Rosen's movie was not only acted, shot and edited in a highly, professional manner, but the narrative was "original, creative and emotionally fulfilling (in other words, the story had a true ending)." Jones added that some entries, though wonderful, run out of steam before the end. In terms of Baxter's work, Jones said that they were taken with the great deal of personality and humor on the part of the filmmaker.

It's often that a filmmaker will put more of him or herself into a short film than a feature-length one. This is especially true of student films. Jones relayed that Harry Kay, another review panelist, said, "It's important to not only recognize accomplishment but to recognize potential." Jones continued that both the winners revealed a sense that they had potential to more films, successful ones.

According to the festival's program guide, the other student films playing along with the two Fierberg Award winners are:

American University (Washington, DC)
A young professional doesn’t worry that his colleagues know he’s gay, only that his white collar colleagues will judge him harshly for dating a blue collar man. [Dir. Michael Hyde, 2012, US, DVD, 14 mins.]

Never Dream, The Beginning
American University (Washington, DC)
A medieval knight (Arthur) is summoned to return home from his quest when his wife (Charlotte) succumbs to a strange illness. The same illness that killed Anne, his first wife and sister Charlotte. Arthur’s servants take Charlotte to the monastery for fear of becoming ill. When Arthur arrives, he is greeted by more than his wife and the Abbott and must fight for his very soul. [Dir. Carl Randolph, 2012, US, DVD, 19 mins.]

The Red Shoes
New York University (New York, New York)
While NYU might be stretching the regional classification, Lindsay shot the film entirely in Rehoboth and surrounding areas with local talent. Karen, a young orphan with wild imagination, strikes creative gold in her new trial home, the ‘Foster Mother Mansion’. Karen behaves well in this lifestyle of plenty, until she discovers a pair of red dancing shoes. Unable to bottle her excitement for them, she must dance. But, will Karen’s imagination carry her to trouble, or to paradise? This short film praises obedience… to one’s own heart. [Dir. Lindsay Bane, 2012, US, DVD 10 mins.]

Student Films screen as "New Filmmakers New Films"
Saturday, November 10 at 5PM.
FREE admission and screens in the Upstairs Screening Room
Directors of all the films are scheduled to appear for a Q&A after the screenings.


Popular Posts