THE 23RD ANNUAL PALM BEACH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL’S STUDENT SHOWCASE OF FILMS AWARDS FLORIDA'S FINEST STUDENT FILMMAKERS

April 2018

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL – April 10, 2018 – On Friday, April 6, The Palm Beach County Film & Television Commission held the 23rd Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival’s Student Showcase of Films at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

The 23rd Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival’s Student Showcase of Films Awards Florida's Finest Student Filmmakers

The 32 finalists were revealed during the red-carpet awards show with $12,500 in scholarships that were awarded to some of these impeccably talented high school and college students. Legendary actor, Burt Reynolds personally presented the Burt Reynolds’ scholarship and TV star/rap icon, Vanilla Ice, bestowed the Music Video Award. Other celebrity presenters included Orlando native Howie Dorough from the Backstreet Boys, Delray resident Chris Hayes, who was featured in the film "Divergent" and debuted as a producer with his recently released film "Headgame," along with major names in the film industry.

Students were interviewed by PBCTV Channel 20 on the red carpet before the awards show

"This event is a great way to showcase the talent in the community! It gives the students drive, a purpose, a meaning, and ambition to push in the future to become whatever they want. This gives them an avenue to chase their dreams and follow them. I am very honored to be a part of it," said Rob "Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle.

Michelle Hillery, Rob "Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle

"The talent that is coming out of Florida is amazing and it is very exciting to see it grow each year. Growing up in Florida, I was involved in singing, acting, and dancing and had aspirations to go to NYU film school. I didn't know what the stars had planned for me and luckily the Backstreet Boys was my break," noted Howie Dorough. "I encourage these young artists to do as much as they can, get in the practice, and never settle on their dreams. Constantly challenge yourself, accept rejection at times, but pick up yourself back up to aspire to continue on to success."

Howie Dorough

Michelle Hillery, Palm Beach County’s Deputy Film Commissioner and Executive Producer of the Student Showcase of Films stated, “This year, the Student Showcase of Films received well over 600 student submissions representing 80 different schools across Florida. Our judging panel of 42 industry professionals had a tough assignment choosing the finalists, and at the live awards show the audience will experience firsthand the outstanding level of talent found in Florida schools!”

Frank Licari opens up the awards show with a song and dance as Mario from Super Mario Brothers to fit the video game theme of the event

The live show and broadcast was hosted by actor, entertainer, and star of CBS' Blue Bloods and PBS South Florida’s On the Town in The Palm Beaches, Frank Licari, who put on an entertaining show with his light-hearted whit. Florida colleges and universities with film, television, and digital media programs were invited to exhibit in the lobby of the theatre that featured booths of virtual reality gaming systems for the students to try out for themselves. Representatives from Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Lynn University, New York Film Academy Miami, Palm Beach Atlantic University, and Palm Beach State College were present.

Brianna Seaberg accepts the Burt Reynolds Scholarship

The finalists in alphabetical order are:

Burt Reynolds & Sara Fuller Scholarship Finalists
MLE DeJaco, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (West Palm Beach)
Marianna Kaimakloitis, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (West Palm Beach)
Abby Longhofer, G-Star School of the Arts (Palm Springs)
Brianna Seaberg, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (West Palm Beach)

High School Feature/Short Finalists
Eva Erhardt, Frankie McCarty-Brown, and Noah Terrell, Howard W. Blake High School (Tampa), The Road Not Taken
Bronza Fox, Key West High School (Key West), Paradise
Matthew Manyak, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (Jacksonville), After the Fall

College Feature/Short Finalists
Janeen Talbott, Florida State University (Tallahassee), Sight
Gabriel A. Valbuena, Florida State University (Tallahassee), If
George Wehmeyer, Miami Dade College (Miami), To the Top and Beyond: The Antrel Rolle Story

The Suzanne L. Niedland Documentary Finalists
Maddie Glas, Howard W. Blake High School (Tampa), Someday
David Merrill, Palm Beach Atlantic University (West Palm Beach), One Last Ride: A PBA Lacrosse Story
Molly Smith, Montverde Academy (Monte Verde/Orlando), Finding Home

Animation Finalists 
Ashley Anderson and Jacob Mann, Ringling College of Art and Design (Sarasota), Extinguished
Esteban Bravo and Beth David, Ringling College of Art and Design (Sarasota), In a Heartbeat
James Just, Ringling College of Art and Design (Sarasota), Tom in Couchland

Commercial/PSA Finalists
Alexander Luttin, G-Star School of the Arts (Palm Springs), It Can Wait
David Merrill, Palm Beach Atlantic University (West Palm Beach), Life of the Party - IBC Root Beer
Angel Soto, Palm Beach Atlantic University (West Palm Beach), A Boy’s Wish

Environmental Awareness PSA Finalists
Sean Duong, West Orange High School (Winter Garden), Polluting Idiot
Olivia Lowery, Palm Beach Gardens High School (Palm Beach Gardens), Go Green
Nikolay N. Onishchuk, Manatee High School (Bradenton), Save the Fish

Mental Health Awareness PSA Finalists
Tyler Grow, G-Star School of the Arts (Palm Springs), Your Song Isn't Over
Naskyya Hester, John I. Leonard High School (Greenacres), Depression
Dexavior Smith, Arthur & Polly May Conservatory of the Arts (Miami), Suicide Prevention

Music Video Finalists
Matthew Baquero, University of Florida (Gainesville), Till They're Back
Matthew Manyak, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (Jacksonville), Gas Cap - "Destiny"
Josh Meredith, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (Palm Springs), I Heard You Like White Boys

Screenwriting Finalists
Farrell Erickson, Florida State University (Tallahassee), Heaven and Hell
Anna Mott and Divya Navani, Key West High School (Key West), Paradise
Molly Smith, Montverde Academy (Monte Verde/Orlando), Words to Speak, Stories to Tell

Poster Design Award Winner
Valentina Messina, Nova Southeastern University (Ft. Lauderdale), 2019 Poster Design

Matthew Manyak, Brianna Seaberg, Gabriel A. Valbuena, Bronza Fox, Krzysztof Madro

Winner of the College Feature Short, Gabriel A. Valbuena from Florida State University noted, "This film took a lot of hard work to make, so it feels amazing to have it recognized by such a prestigious group. I am always getting ideas from stories and am inspired by Tallahassee, so this award is confirmation that I should keep pursuing what I am doing."

Molly Smith from Monteverde Academy, winner of the Screenwriting award expressed, "It is really amazing to win this award since it is completely based off of my writing, which has always been a passion of mine. I tend to write over and over again and the movie has not even been produced yet, so this award pushes me, even more, to film it which I will be doing this year."

About the Palm Beach International Films Festival’s Student Showcase of Films: Student submissions are judged by industry professionals with finalists to be presented with cash awards and prizes during the red-carpet awards show at the Wold Performing Arts Center at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Every year, the SSOF awards show attracts more than 800 students and their families, along with celebrity presenters, industry pros, media, state and county dignitaries, performers and more. Celebrity presenters have included Burt Reynolds, Vanilla Ice, Cheri Oteri, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Bruce Campbell, Clint Howard, Linda Blair and many more! The SSOF is funded by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners through the Department of Housing & Economic Sustainability. Major sponsors include the Palm Beach International Film Festival, Lynn University, and the Palm Beach County Film & Television Commission. Category sponsors include Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful, Inc. (Environmental PSA Award), Film Florida (Sara Fuller Scholarship), Michael Chasin (Nellie & Fred Chasin Screenwriting Award) and the Information Television Network (“Know Difference” Mental Health Awareness PSA Award).

*Main photo courtesy of Student Showcase of Films 

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