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Student video contest shows perspectives on life at Rice

By Jocelyn Wright     5/14/09 7:00pm

First Rice, then Hollywood? The winners of the Rice University Student Video Contest "Lights, Camera, Action: Your Life at Rice" were announced April 22. The contest was sponsored and coordinated by the Center for Civic Engagement, the Community Involvement Center, the Digital Media Center, Fondren Library, Information Technology, the Office of Sustainability, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates and the Wellness Center.Nine submissions were made, either to the general category or one of five special categories: Environment/Sustainability Issues, Alternative Spring Break, Health and Wellness Issues, Residential College/Student Organization and Research. All films had to be five minutes or shorter, Digital Media Center Director Lisa Spiro said.

Architecture graduate student Will Clifton won first place and $500 in the general category for his video "Everyone is Catholic." Faheem Ahmed (Baker College '09) and Sid Richardson College senior Anish Patel received second place and $250 for their video "Faheem and Anish Go to the Oscars." Wiess College senior Rachel Solnick came in third place and won $100 for her video "Bana Botswana."

The winners of the special focus categories were Will Rice College senior Grace Ng in Environmental/Sustainability Issues for "ASB Nicaragua 2007;" Jennie Wilburn (Brown College '09), Brown junior Nick Bridle, Will Rice sophomore Frank Alfaro, Martel College junior Kara Calhoun and Administrative Coordinator for the Office of the President Rica Gardner in the Alternative Spring Break category for "International ASB 2009;" and Baker senior Connor Hollowwa in Residential College/Student Organization for "Rice ASB: Unconventional Learning."

The winners of each category received $150. Spiro said there were no winners in the other categories because there were no appropriate submissions.

The videos were screened at the President and Dean's Study Break April 19. Audience members voted on a winner, "Faheem and Anish Go to the Oscars," which received an additional $150.

Winners in the other categories were determined by a panel of judges that consisted of representatives from groups sponsoring the contest.

Spiro said the winning films were visually compelling and told good stories.

"One thing that made [the winners] stand out was the creativity they showed in the ways that they approached the topic of the film," she said.

Spiro said student reaction to the contest was positive.

"People seemed excited about the opportunity to show their capabilities as filmmakers," she said. "They were excited about the prize money and really seemed to get into the contest."

Spiro said a video contest is planned for the fall of next year. She said she hoped launching the contest earlier in the year would give students more time to determine a topic and to have a more formal recognition ceremony for winners. She said the contest sponsors will be more explicit about the guidelines for the contest and emphasize that the submissions must be under five minutes in length.

They also plan to work more closely with film classes and other classes that incorporate videos to encourage more videos that explore some aspect of doing research, Sprio said.

Students who have a topic and need assistance or access to digital media equipment can utilize the equipment and resources at the Digital Media Center, Spiro said.

Students looking for inspiration can check out this year's winners online at

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