Student filmmakers claim top prize at festival

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Kristina Drzaic and Kateri McCarthy, seniors majoring in film, television and theatre at the University of Notre Dame, won a first-place prize for their film “Roses are Red” at the inaugural Poppy Jasper Film Festival held Nov. 12 to 14 in Morgan Hill, Calif.

Co-directed by Drzaic and McCarthy, “Roses are Red” is a silent, black-and-white romance in which a handsome student is tracked by a secret female admirer perched in a tree. The film won the Oxygen Award – the highest honor presented at the festival in the category of best film by a woman. The award is sponsored by the Oxygen television network.

“The film was very clever,” festival chair Kim Bush said. “It was mischievous, it was fun, and it had a great twist at the end.”

“Roses are Red” was created as an assignment for an intermediate film production class and was shot on the Notre Dame campus last fall using fellow students as actors. In addition, the original score for the production was composed by a Notre Dame student. The assignment required that the film be shot in black-and-white, with no sound and no recognizable features of Notre Dame.

Named after the semi-precious gemstone unique to the California town where it is held, the Poppy Jasper Film Festival is designed to give filmmakers of short, independent films who are residents of California a venue to showcase their work, participate in workshops and meet fellow filmmakers.

Its mission is to promote emerging voices and an awareness of the film arts in the California community.

“A call for entries to the festival was made in all the local papers,” said Drzaic, a Morgan Hill native. “The films I had made at Notre Dame fit the criteria so I submitted both my advanced and intermediate productions. There was no category for college student films, so our film was submitted as a premiere/independent.”

Drzaic and McCarthy competed against student filmmakers from USC, Loyola Marymount and San Jose State, as well as other non-student filmmakers.

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