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Media Arts students show off their filmmaking skills in latest showcase

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

The Media Arts Showcase returns to campus and shows efforts of student filmmakers

By Mike Diaz, Staff Writer


(L-R) Koloa Tonga and cinema professor Michael Feinstein address the audience at the Media Arts 2023 Fall Showcase held within the Music Recital hall at Valley on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. (Suey Herrarte | Valley Star)

The Media Arts 2023 Fall Showcase, held Friday night, made its second return to campus after the event was held online the previous few semesters.


“We are incredibly proud to show our student films in front of a live audience,” said Media Arts Department Chair Eric Swelstad. “We know that the support from the audience means a lot to our students and our faculty.”


Students from Valley’s Cinema 101 (a beginning film production workshop), and the Anti-Racism Film Project put their films on the big screen for friends, family, fellow students and President Barry Gribbons.


President Gribbons took the stage to congratulate the filmmakers and recalled his time as an undergrad at USC when he watched student films. After the welcoming words, the student films started to roll.

Student filmmakers explored a variety of themes, which included prostitution, loss of loved ones, menstrual cycles, parodies of spaghetti westerners, Samurai inspired films and Kung Fu films.


Lighting for the student films ranged from natural to digital effects. Score styles varied from the use of borrowed soundtracks to other media, video games and pop songs.


As part of the Anti-Racism Film Project the student showcase addressed racism in society with the film “Pinky Promise,” which was put on display at the Cannes Film Festival. The event culminated in awards presented to the student filmmakers. The Best Story category was awarded to “If Only” by Kathy Santillan. Best Cinematography was awarded to “Hello Katie” by Kendrick Trejo. Best Editing was awarded to “Finding Me” by Koloa Tonga. Best Sound Design went to “Ill” by Natalee Merino. Best Visual Effects went to “Grim” by Tiana Boyd.


“I had to wing everything at the last minute,” said Tiana Boyd whose film was a story about a woman suffering a near death experience.


The highly anticipated Audience Choice Award was given, a few days later, to “Ensiger” by Curtis White. The delay was due to problems with the network, but the students were happy to receive the award.

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