CCA Filmmakers' "Blink" Honored as Regional Finalist in Student Academy Award Competition

A documentary short by Yoni Klein and Alka Joshi

Blink once for finalist, twice for student Academy Award.

In almost as little time as it takes to blink, Yoni Klein's (2012 Photography) and alumna Alka Joshi's (MFA 2011 Writing) documentary short, Blink, made the film festival rounds in 2011, screening at almost a dozen film festivals across the United States as well as in London at GFEST, the Gaywise Festival! Now the film has just been announced as a regional finalist in the 39th annual Student Academy Awards competition of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Academy) and the Academy Foundation!

"Blink", directed and edited by Klein and Joshi, explores how a lifelong obsession with photography has given Russ Osterweil's life a sense of purpose and a bond with humanity, most recently as he recorded his near-death bout with Kaposi's Sarcoma, a cancerous tumor of the connective tissue, which is often associated with AIDS.

Watch Blink »

"I had a feeling Blink could go the distance –– and it has," said CCA Film chair Rob Epstein (himself a two-time Academy Award-honored filmmaker). "To be regional finalists for the Student Academy Awards is an exceptional achievement."

President Steve Beal mirrored the compliment, calling it "a great achievement."

About the Student Academy Awards

The Student Academy Awards is an annual national student film competition conducted by the Academy and the Academy Foundation. Over 500 college and university film students from across the United States compete for awards and cash grants. The competition has four distinct categories: Animation, Documentary, Narrative, and Alternative. A maximum of three films in each category are selected for the National Finals, which are judged by Academy members in Los Angeles in May.

(Past winners, selected by the professional filmmaker members of the Academy, include Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Bob Saget, and Academy Award-winners John Lasseter and Robert Zemeckis.)

A total of 165 eligible films were entered in 2011. Panels of judges assembled and evaluated the work and determined the regional finalists for each category. The Region One Finals competition (representing filmmakers from Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming) will take place at a free public screening on Tuesday, April 24, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Northwest Film Center/Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium (1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland Oregon). At that time, a panel of judges will determine which films advance to the national competition.

To give a sense of just how competitive the Student Academy Awards is, only 15 students were honored in last year's 38th Student Academy Awards competition.

Interdisciplinary Curriculum Pays Off

Neither Klein nor Joshi is a Film major, but each had access to a community of filmmakers who inspired them at CCA. By combining their knowledge and appreciation for photography and writing, they were able to work collaboratively -- combining strengths and truly tapping into the most effective way to engage an audience in storytelling.

"The interdisciplinarity was one of the main reasons I enrolled [at CCA]," admits Joshi. "I wanted to combine my writing skills with the medium of film. Having a gifted instructor like Rob Epstein, whose work has won global accolades, and a talented partner like Yoni Klein, led to a creative endeavor that has exceeded my expectations. My educational investment in CCA has really paid off."

Klein, too, acknowledges the importance of storytelling as well as the collaborative support he and Joshi received from their instructors: "I'm extremely grateful for the help we received on this project from Rob Epstein and Johnny Symons in the "Stranger than Fiction" and "Film 2: Production" courses as well as Brook Hinton for his technical expertise. They really helped us materialize our ideas and distill the essence of the story. Beyond that, their support made us believe in the film and dare to submit it to festivals and competitions."

This isn't Klein's only film contribution either; he filmed and edited the official CCA: It Gets Better video entry in the national It Gets Better Project, a suicide-prevention campaign aimed at teenage LGBT persons. In as few as two months, the video -- the first official institutional submission by an art college -- has almost 8,000 views!

Facing the Competition

Even at this relatively early stage in the game, Klein and Joshi have stepped up to plate and hit a home run out of the park. "The fact Blink is now in the same category as graduate school-level films –– from UC Berkeley Journalism School and Stanford no less –– makes the recognition that much more consequential," confirms Epstein. "This is a first for CCA on several counts."

"Blink" Screenings & Awards

To date "Blink" has been screened at the following film festival venues:

DocuFest Atlanta
Eau Queer Film Festival, Madison
GFEST, London
HollyShorts, Los Angeles (Official Selection)
Indie Fest, La Jolla (Award of Merit)
International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival (Frameline35), San Francisco
Lights Film Festival, Providence (Judge’s Selection)
Open Show, San Francisco
Pittsburg Gay Film Fest
Spokane Film Festival

About CCA's Film Program

The Film Program at CCA explores the creative possibilities in expanded narrative frameworks, from linear to nonlinear forms, with the goal of guiding young artists and filmmakers to break new ground in storytelling. Beginning with a solid foundation in narrative film and production practices, the curriculum advances to place the full range of filmmaking and new media arts practices in dialogue with each other.

Read more, including how to apply »

Related

"Blink" Documentary to Screen at World's Largest International LGBT Film Festival"
CCA: It Gets Better

Yoni Klein's senior exhibition, Stories from the Mission Hotel, combines photographs and audio interviews that examine the residents of a long-term residence hotel in San Francisco's Mission District.

Reception: Wednesday, May 2, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Exhibition Dates: Monday, 4/30, through Saturday, 5/5, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: College Avenue Galleries | 5421 College Avenue | Oakland (http://g.co/maps/yuptm)