Emerging Stars Celebrated at Annual Epidemic Film Festival
Promising an engaging night of innovative films from up-and-coming directors, screenwriters, actors and more, this year’s Annual Epidemic Festival drew a record crowd of approximately 1,800 students, instructors, film industry professionals and movie lovers.
The yearly event celebrates the talent and dedication of Academy of Art University’s School of Motion Pictures & Television | Acting students with an Academy Awards–style ceremony. Before the winners are announced, the films, music videos and commercials are screened for an eager and cheering audience.
As in previous years, the Epidemic Film Festival drew an impressive crowd of industry insiders who could share their knowledge and experience with Academy of Art University’s emerging filmmakers. Among the industry professionals at the event was the Master of Ceremonies for the ceremony, Erik Weiner, one of the writers of popular TV series Robot Chicken.
President of Academy of Art University Dr. Elisa Stephens presented the two guests of honor, filmmaker Roger Corman and actress Eva Marie Saint, with Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters for their outstanding achievements in film.
“Roger Corman is the most influential filmmaker in Hollywood and then some,” said Dr. Stephens as she introduced Corman.
Known for his ability to spot talent, Corman has nurtured the careers of such luminaries as Robert De Niro, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson and many others. His film credits include Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, Little Shop of Horrors, Wild Angels and many others. In his address to the students, Corman reflected his work with young, aspiring filmmakers throughout his career. “Never lose that enthusiasm,” he told students.
As she introduced Saint, Dr. Stephens said, “Eva Marie Saint is a theater, film and television actress without peer.”
Saint has played a variety of roles, including performances in North by Northwest, Raintree County, Exodus and, of course, her Academy Award–winning performance in On the Waterfront. In her remarks, Saint encouraged students to follow their dreams and offered valuable advice for those pursuing an acting career: “You have to have a backbone of steel and you have to be vulnerable.”
Other distinguished attendees included screenwriter and nine-time Emmy Award winner Ed. Weinberger; Alan Heim, who won an Academy Award for Best Film Editing for All That Jazz; Emmy Award–winning director Robert Butler; Michael Goi, cinematographer on My Name is Earl; and many others. Grease director Randal Kleiser, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Academy of Art University at last year’s Epidemic Film Festival, returned to the festival this year.
As Diane Baker, Executive Director of Motion Pictures & Television | Acting, welcomed the audience to the event, she made clear how thrilled she was to screen the 31 nominated films, commercials and performances. “I am very proud of all the hard work you’ve all put into these films,” she told the nominees.
Praise from Baker is high praise indeed. From her film acting debut in The Diary of Anne Frank to roles in films such as Silence of the Lambs and The Net to TV roles on critically acclaimed series House and Unscripted, she is an incredibly talented actress and has received a number of Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations for her work. She has also become a respected producer. Among her credits as producer are Ashiana, Never Never Land and A Woman of Substance, which received an Emmy Award nomination.
Each nominee drew cheers and applause from the excited audience. The films ranged from a documentary about a former Cirque du Soleil performer to the futuristic story of a delivery man who battles mutants to arrive at his destination. All of the films displayed the talent, skill and creativity of the burgeoning filmmakers, which they honed while working with instructors who are also professionals in the film industry.
The top winning film of the night was Larkin, a drama that tells the story of a police officer coping with the murder of his wife. The film won awards for its cast and crew in cinematography, acting, editing, sound and production design. Comedy film For Rent, the story of a con woman who may have taken on more than she can handle, took home three awards, one for lead actress Samantha Edelstein and the other two for director Jodi Tyler who won for Best Narrative – Comedy and Best Director – Comedy, both new categories this year.
Academy of Art University congratulates all of the winners and nominees for their innovative vision.
The School of Motion Pictures & Television would like to thank its sponsors for their continual support and generosity: Panavision, Technicolor, FotoKem, Otto Nemenz, Kodak, AON, Pacific Power, B&H, JCX, Adolph Gasser and TEK Media Group. They have given our winning students something to inspire them to work toward their goals.