Destin Daniel CrettonDestin Daniel Cretton
Grand Jury Prize
“Short Term 12”

Destin rocked the film world at Sundance in January of 2009, arriving virtually unknown, and walking away with the fest’s prestigious short film prize. That work, “Short Term 12,” is a harrowing look inside a residential facility housing kids who are all affected by child abuse and neglect. It was the closing night film for our 2009 public exhibition programs.

Destin, a Hawaiian native, now resides in San Diego. Cretin wrote, directed, produced, and composed the music for the film, which he made as his thesis project for his master’s degree at San Diego State University. It has been nominated for a Student Academy Award.

After receiving his undergrad diploma from Point Loma Nazarene University, Cretin spent two years working in a facility similar to the one depicted in the film. The film’s central character of Denim, a supervisor at the facility who comes to terms with his own limitations and failures in the midst of this chaos, had strong parallels to his own experiences at the time her spent there.

He has written and directed four award-winning short films: “Longbranch: A Suburban Parable” (2002), “Bartholomew's Song” (2006), which won the College Filmmaker Award at BestFest America; “Deacon's Mondays” (2007), which was named best student film at the Savannah Film and Video Festival, and “Short Term 12.” Other awards include a Fuji Film Audience Impact Award and HBO Film’s Best Student Film Award. He also directed a feature documentary, “Drakmar,” which premiered on HBO in 2007.

Destin has plans to turn “Short Term 12” into a feature length project. It continues to receive critical raves as it makes the worldwide festival circuit, energized by the impressive showing at Sundance. In presenting Cretin the Grand Jury Prize at 24fps this past November, the jury cited the film “for its raw emotional power, concise direction, and overwhelming sense of immediacy and truth.”

Coley Sohn
Silver Medal
“Boutonniere”

Coley is a first time director, which is astounding given that her darkly comic “Boutonnière” premiered at Sundance in 2009. The film tells the story of a teenage girl who must endure her overbearing mother’s exuberant plans for a prom that she’d rather not attend.

Coley started out as a theatre actor in her native Washington, DC and made her way west, where she secured recurring roles on “Desperate Housewives,” and “90210.” Capitalizing on her penchants for both improvisation and real estate, she bought the house that “Boutonniere” was shot in and then flipped it, post production, to pay for the entire project.

The film’s central character is an angst-ridden teenage girl desperately trying to escape from her oppressive home life, ruled over by a mother reeling from a failed marriage to a man she discovered to be gay. At once both hilarious and heartbreaking, the film capitalizes on Sohn’s knack for capturing the power of the simplest moments.

Sohn is also a breast cancer survivor, a subject she is reluctant to talk about, but one that has influenced her work and certainly given her a sense of determination and drive. In fact, she is in the process of opening her own production company, Boobs and Brains, a not-so-subtle reminder of her recent struggle, and her executive producer’s successful brain surgery last year.

An openly gay filmmaker, Coley strives not to make that the focus of her work. In a recent interview with FilmArcade she said “I was once asked if I felt I needed to be a voice for gay cinema, and I don’t at all.” She emphasized that she wanted the focus to be on her work, and that being truthful in that work would be the best way to communicate who she is.

She is currently working on a feature-length version of “Boutonniere,” which she has titled “Sissy Pants.” “Boutonniere” was recently named as winner of the Best Comedy Short award at LA Shorts Fest. The film was screened on the second night program at 24fps this past November, and cited by the jury for its “subtle, dense comic timing, and cringe-inducing accuracy.”

Rodrigo Blaas
Bronze Medal
“Alma”

When Pixar animator Rodrigo Blaas decided to take time off from his duties at the world’s greatest animation factory, folks were certainly curious. When he began collecting some of the best artists in the field to work with him, it became apparent that something unique was in the works.

The result, “Alma,” has taken international festival audiences by storm, winning Best Animation at LA Shorts Fest in 2009, a Jury Honorable Mention at Siggraph 2009, and a recent nomination for the Goya Award for Best Animation (Short Film). We were pleased to be one of the first fests to screen the technically brilliant short, featuring it on our opening night program in November last year.

Alma tells the story of a young girl who becomes intrigued by the contents of a mysterious toy shop. Incredibly detailed and layered, the short film takes the traditional Pixar look and sends it over the edge into a world where nothing is what is seems and a droning sense of the macabre pushes at the constraint of every frame. More Stephen King than Toy Story, the film establishes a visual style that is unique to the genre.

Blass made the rendering of this darkly comic fable an international event, enlisting the services of French animator Bolhem Bouchiba, Spanish character designers Carlos Grangel and Sergio Pablos, Art Director Alfonso Blaas (Rodrigo’s brother), music composer Nacho Mastretta, and Skywalker Sound designer Tom Myers.

Originally from Granada, Spain, Blaas is a self-taught animator who developed a passion for the art form after a brief career in snowboard competition. When that career ended, he moved to Madrid where he worked on 3D projects for the Molinare and Miopia Studios. After migrating to the United States, he landed a position with Pixar, where he has worked for six years on such projects as “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “Cars,” “Ratatouille,” and “WALL*E .”

The Goya Award nomination for “Alma” is a signal that more accolades are likely to follow for Blass and his collaborators. The film was awarded the Bronze Medal at 24fps in 2009, cited by the jury for its “astounding attention to detail, originality of vision, and technical execution.”

Nash Edgerton
Audience Award
“Spider”

Nash Edgerton can rest assured he has accomplished the near impossible. During 24fps jury screenings of his darkly comic film, “Spider,” the film’s now-infamous “twist” so shocked a normally composed, conservative, right-wing juror that he spewed out profanity. Nash would be so proud.

“Spider,” shot in 2007, has made what can only be described as a mega festival circuit over the past three years. It has appeared at over 100 fests, received some 25+ awards, and gained viral status on the internet. When it finally made it to West Texas this past fall as part of our closing night program, the “have seen it” people simply waited on the edge of their seats for the “haven’t seen it” people to wet their pants in reaction to the tightly constructed short film’s double twist ending.

“Spider” is a stunt-driven cautionary tale, exposing both the folly of practical jokes and the necessity of pure communication—especially when driving a car. Director Edgerton (who also stars in the film) knows his craft from both sides of the camera. He has worked as an actor, stunt performer, editor, producer, writer, and director.

A native Australian who still resides in Melbourne, he began his filmmaking career at the age of 18 as a stunt performer, and since that time he has earned over 100 film and television credits including “The Matrix Trilogy,” Stars Wars II,” “Star Wars III,” “The Thin Red Line,” and “Superman Returns.” He produced and edited the acclaimed film “The Magician,” and has just finished directing his first feature film “The Square.”

Edgerton’s “Spider” sprung from an idea that popped into his head and wouldn’t go away. He relishes making hundreds of people scream, jump, and laugh at the same time; in fact he states “it makes me feel a little warm inside. It’s probably the best reaction to anything I’ve made.”

He is also a founding partner of Blue-Tongue Films, a collection of friend/filmmakers who all work on each other’s projects in various capacities. His feature, “The Square,” is a stylish, twist-filled film noir that he co-wrote with his brother, Joel, who also stars in the film. It has been listed by many critics as one of the top films of 2009.

Bradford Schmidt
Horizon Award—Outstanding Student Film
“Welgünzêr”

“It was as if everything that was happening to them had happened. Or would happen. Or would have happened. Or would have had happened.”

Viewing writer/director Bradford Schmidt’s darkly comic film, “Welgünzêr,” is like having your brain squeezed in a vice grip. The “wtf” plot involves a forgettable everyman who is so distraught over being dumped by his wife that he contemplates murder…his own murder. To this end, he constructs a time machine. His reasoning? It would be far better to end his life in the future, where he could make certain it would be utterly painless.

Smart, twisted, and strange, the film was an immediate hit with 24fps audiences last November. Made as Schmidt’s thesis project for the UCLA School of Film and Television, the mindbender is one part Terry Gilliam, one part Cohen Brothers, and several parts Schmidt. Given the director’s rebellious spirit, this all makes total sense.

Just a week after high school graduation, Brad (as his friends call him) left his small mountain hometown in Colorado for five years. He lived, worked, and traveled across five continents, sailing and crewing aboard yachts throughout the Caribbean, Eastern sea board, Mexico, South Africa and the South Pacific. His “return to civilization” was his application and acceptance into the competitive UCLA film program, which he submitted from a boat in the Caribbean while doing some college courses online.

Struggling to find the way to fund the film with his own money while still in school, Schmidt relied heavily on friends, family and classmates for assistance and inspiration. The film’s stunning cinematography is the work of his brother, Austin. The film’s producer, Kate Sharp, is herself an award-winning filmmaker and a recent graduate of NYU and the Tisch School of the Arts. The story’s inspiration came from the writing of a childhood friend, Brandon Thompson, a recent winner of the Goldwyn Screenwriting Award.

The resulting film, “Welgünzêr,” has been critically lauded on the festival circuit, receiving awards at the BAFTA/LA Student Film Awards, as well as festivals in Strasbourg, Austin, and Athens. Schmidt recently signed a distribution deal for the short film with Ouat Media, a Canadian global distribution company. It received its regional US premiere at our 24fps Festival last November, where it was cited by the jury for its “complicated, layered, and intelligent direction.”

Dusan Kastelic
Kurosawa Award for Creative Excellence
“Chicory ‘n’ Coffee”

The mark of an exceptional artist is the uncanny ability to capture the essence of our humanity in the simplest of strokes. “Chicory ‘n’ Coffee,” from Slovenian animator Dusan Kastelic, is a beautiful example of this creative spirit. Three years in the making, the digitally animated masterpiece has touched audiences worldwide with both its visual and emotional impact.

“Chicory ‘n’ Coffee” was presented the festival’s coveted Kurosawa Award for Creative Excellence, a prize given by the official jury to the film that embodies the innovative and creative spirit that legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa has brought to all his film work. Kastelic’s unrelenting attention to every technical detail of the film never undermines the simple truth of his story: tell people you love that you do love them…before it’s too late.”

Certainly the product of humble beginnings, Dusan was born in 1964 in a small mining town, Trbovlje, in the middle of Slovenia. A sickly child, he was unable to carry on the family tradition and get a decent job as a miner. He started drawing comics at age three, and immediately became interested in the arts. After graduating college, he taught at a local elementary school for one year before running away from that world to try his hand as a freelance graphic designer.

For the past few years, he has been working mostly in multimedia, web design, and computer game programming. He took a break from his everyday life to make “Chicory ‘n’ Coffee,” a taxing and time consuming task that ended up consuming three years of his life. He labels it a project for “his soul,” something he feels that every creative person should take on periodically to refresh their perspective on life. While the result of his work has been an unqualified success, it has left him “a bigger nervous wreck that I already was, with a lot less hair.”

Kastelic is currently in the process of establishing the Bugbrain Institute for Animation, his own animation and computer games studio. The fledgling studio’s work includes “Happy,” a series of short animations for kids that highlight Dusan’s unique visual style and pay homage to his comic book beginnings.

“Chicory ‘n’ Coffee” is based on a Slovenian folk song by Iztok Mlakar, the simple story of a man and his young bride who only discovers the depth of their love for each other after life has passed them by. It was a festival favorite during our November 2009 public exhibitions, and cited by the jury for its “truly original visual style, design, and emotional impact.” The film has been selected by more than 40 worldwide festivals, shining a bright spotlight on Kastelic and his fledgling Slovenian company.

The 2010 24fps International Short Film Festival is now accepting submissions.

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