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Media Arts Department Celebrates Student Films

Updated: May 16

Some of Valley's young visual storytellers can now call themselves award-winning filmmakers.

By Natalie Gazazian, Staff Writer 

Student Artavazd Ovakimyan seeks through the LAVC Media Arts Student Showcase Spring pamphlets moments before the showing of student films.  (Taylor Cowhey for The Valley Star)

Master of Ceremonies, Department Chair Eric Swelstad, along with members of the media arts faculty, presented awards to student filmmakers at the Valley College Music Building - Recital Hall to celebrate the Media Arts 2024 Spring Showcase.

The event showcased student films from Fall of 2023 where students, faculty, family, and friends gathered to celebrate the hard work and efforts of these young visual storytellers. 

The audience of around 60 used their phones to cast votes via QR code. When Professor Jason Williams announced the winner of the Audience Choice award, “Burning Autumn Leaves: Treachery,” by Artavazd Ovakimyan, the crowd burst into applause as he got up to address the audience.

“I am just getting started,” said Ovakimyan after he collected his award.  

Filmmaker Julia Durham was grateful to win best story “Don’t” and took the opportunity to thank her friends who participated in the making of the film. Kamani Alana Sawyer took the award for cinematography for her film “Fast Backward” which depicted the complicated relationship between a mother and daughter, just in time for Mother’s Day. 

Kamani Alana Sawyer gleamed after Professor Jonathan Burnett presented her with the achievement in cinematography award at the LAVC Media Arts Student Showcase Spring. (Taylor Cowhey for The Valley Star)

Valerie Garcia took home the top honors for editing in “The Getaway” and best sound went to Juliet Garcia for “Imagination.” Luciana Serrano was emotional upon taking home the best visual effects award for her horror film “Vampire Heart.”  

The Media Arts Department’s next showcase will take place in the fall semester and will feature two nights of films. At the end of the hour and thirty-minute event,  Swelstad said, “We want to see them continue on in our program.” 

Of the films screened, 36 were produced from two Cinema 101 courses, fourteen of which came from Professor Chris Childs’ evening class and 22 others were produced in Swelstad’s morning class. Like Ovakimyan, most of these young filmmakers are just getting started. 

“The Media Arts Department is extremely proud and honored to celebrate the work of our students and can now call themselves award-winning filmmakers, even if they had their film screened today,” Swelstad said. “It is a major accomplishment and we’re proud of all of our students.”  


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