“Sammy, without Strings” wins the Austin Film Festival for Best Narrative Student Short Film and will compete at EnergaCAMERIMAGE – UNCSA | Episode Movies

“Sammy, Without Strings,” a School of Filmmaking student film, won the award for Best Narrative Student Short Film and had its world premiere in competition at the Austin Film Festival October 27-November 3. It is the first time a UNCSA film has been recognized in this category at the Austin Film Festival. The project also competes at the EnergaCAMERIMAGE International Film Festival in the category Film and Art School Studies from November 12-19, 2022 in Toruń, Poland. Earlier this year, it was the first East Coast film school project to be featured at Creative Artists Agency’s Moebius Film Festival.

The film, directed and co-written by alumnus Ralph Parker III (BFA Film ’22), will be part of “Panorama,” a screening of films by students from UNCSA’s School of Filmmaking on Friday, November 11, 2022 at 7 p.m. at the Babcock Theater at the ACE Exhibition Complex on campus. Tickets are available free of charge on our website or by calling 336-721-1945. For a video of the making of the film, see The Artist’s Vision: Inside ‘Sammy, Without Strings’.

Ralph Parker, III at the Austin Film Festival

In its 30th year, EnergaCAMERIMAGE is a week-long festival dedicated to celebrating cinematography and recognizing emerging filmmakers. The Film and Art School Studies category brings together talented students from around the world to meet with international panels of industry professionals and accomplished filmmakers. The project’s cinematographer, alumnus Ariano Treviño Angelone (BFA Film ’22), will visit EnergaCAMERIMAGE on behalf of the film.

“We are extremely proud of the creative team behind this extraordinary film that represents the university internationally,” said Dean Deborah LaVine of the School of Filmmaking. His award-winning photographs are beautiful, and the professional use of robotics, puppetry and SFX combine to create a compelling and emotional story. The film boldly explores the commercialization of the African-American experience with a blend of theatrics and emotional poignancy.”

Will Henderson, III and Ralph Parker, III

Will Henderson, III and Ralph Parker, III

Co-written by Will Henderson III, a fourth-year film student, Sammy, Without Strings is a narrative short film about a black puppet named Sammy who falls in love with a woman in his audience who is being directed by his villainous puppeteer. Sammy’s goal is to break free of his strings and perform in front of oppressive audiences in order to live a life of dignity and humanity with her. It premiered during the May 2022 year-end screenings presented by the UNCSA School of Filmmaking.

“I wanted to do something weird and surreal that explores the dynamics of oppression, objectification and commercialization of the black artist throughout time in America and even today,” Parker said. “The school has always been very supportive of the project and the team has been sensitive to the issue. In writing the play, Will and I used our due diligence to refine turn-of-the-century America, vaudeville and minstrels to respectfully portray our characters.

“Sammy’s intentional and impactful cinematography was a fully collaborative effort, and my core crew was instrumental in establishing the look and feel of the film,” Angelone said. “Having faculty and collaborators like Bob Massa and Craig LaVenture be so generous and trusting with their equipment gave us the creative freedom to explore different techniques that gave the film such a unique look.”

Jenna Cusak, Will Henderson III, Ralph Parker III, Grace Williamson

Jenna Cusak, Will Henderson III, Ralph Parker III, Grace Williamson

“Sammy, Without Strings” was written by Will Henderson III and Ralph Parker III; produced by Jenna Cusack and Grace Williamson; cinematography by Ariano Treviño Angelone; production design by Grayson Fisher; edited by Kendall Best; sound design by Kendall Best and Daniel Christie; Music by Wilfred Moeschter; costume design by Erin Justice; and hair and makeup design by Courtney Kakac.

EnergaCAMERIMAGE supports the development of new filmmakers and offers a unique opportunity to showcase the cinematic achievements of students from different parts of the world. Every year more and more film schools submit their best etudes to the selection committee for appraisal. The winners will be selected by an international jury of prominent filmmakers and industry professionals.

Since its inception in 1994, the Austin Film Festival has aimed to advance the art and craft of storytelling by inspiring and promoting the work of writers, filmmakers and all artists who use written and visual language to tell a story as a Guiding principle of our story telling and growth. The festival is the first of its kind to focus on the author’s contribution to film and television. It hopes to create a community for writers to connect and bridge from craft to career.

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