Student filmmakers win top prizes at Purdue’s 6th annual Digital Cinema Contest

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Five students received the top prizes at the Purdue University Digital Learning Collaboratory’s sixth annual Digital Cinema Contest Premiere Night and Awards Ceremony on Thursday (April 17) at Wabash Landing 9 theater.

Awards were given for best documentary, alternative, animated, and narrative film, along with a viewer’s choice. Those chosen for best actor, actress, cinematography, sound design, special features and director also were recognized.

“The Shelter,” submitted by Mathhew Byori Mann, a senior in film and video studies from Champaign, Ill., won three awards – Best Narrative, Best Cinematography (by Dan Skubal), and Best Director.

Another film earned two awards. “Story Never Written” by Alex Donkle, a junior in acoustical engineering from Valparaiso, Ind., was recognized for Best Alternative Film and received the award for Best Special Features.

Other winners in the film category were “Bug Bowl” by Aaron Black, a senior majoring in psychology from Aurora, Ind., for Best Documentary; “Ara” by Tyler Kupferer, a senior in computer graphics technology from Columbus, Ind., for Best Animation; and “Unnoticeable Flying Object (UFO)” by Don Han, a senior in computer graphics technology from Seoul, South Korea, for Viewer’s Choice.

Individual awards included John Cessna, a 2007 alumnus of the film and video studies program at Purdue and a current MFA student in studio arts, who was recognized for Best Actor in the film, “We’ll Miss You.” Andrea Morales, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, from West Lafayette, Ind. received Best Actress for her role in “A Dreamer’s Rendezvous” (trailer). Paul Laux, a senior in film and video studies from South Bend, Ind., won Best Sound Design.

Prizes for the top winners included software packages, a digital camera, and cash. Local restaurants and retailers supplied other prizes.

The filmmakers and their crews arrived at the theater in limousines.

“The whole production was first class,” noted Kevin O’Shea, contest organizer and coordinator of the Digital Learning Collaboratory (DLC). “We were very impressed with the caliber of this year’s entries and enjoyed having this opportunity to recognize the talent and hard work of these students.”

The contest is presented annually by the DLC in the John W. Hicks Undergraduate Library at Purdue University. The DLC is a joint initiative of Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP) and the Purdue University Libraries.

“We hope the students see this contest as a learning opportunity,” said John Fritch, associate professor of library science and the DLC’s reference and instruction librarian. “Several of the top winners are studying film or animation at Purdue, and this contest gives them the opportunity to showcase their work and be recognized for it.” The DLC offers access to film editing software packages and instruction, video and computer equipment, and DLC staff members provided feedback during “pitch nights” on the development of each film.

For a complete list of winners and to view the submitted films, please visit

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