Students win film festival award

Posted on: November 18, 2011

American Terrorist,” a short film created by students at Michigan State University, won awards at the recent Flint Film Festival and East Lansing Film Festival.

Telecommunication, information studies, and media master’s student Curtis Matzke was co-writer and co-director of photography and post-production supervisor. Ben Sherman, who graduated in May with a degree in media arts and technology and specializations in fiction film production and documentary studies, was director and co-writer of the film.

“I was thrilled to have the film win awards. It’s surreal seeing words that you originally wrote on a piece of scrap paper end up being recognized in such a glorious way,” Matzke said.

The film was honored Best Student Narrative at the East Lansing Film Festival’s Lake Michigan Film Competition and The film won Best College Film at the Flint Festival.

This fictional drama is about a character named Gary Stevens, a biology professor who is overwhelmed by society and heartbreak. He reaches his breaking point and does the unimaginable.

Matzke and Sherman were inspired by many films and TV shows that depict an anti-hero as the protagonist and their relationship with the audience. They certainly were influenced by the show Breaking Bad, which we are both fans of, they said.

“For me, the idea behind the film was always about perception and how you perceive good versus evil, as well as simply people's definition of the word terrorist, American and other representations of 21st century American thought,” Matzke said.

“Most importantly, we wanted to make a character-driven narrative that explored relationships, humanity and conflict. It was very important that we not make a typical college film that was safe and that we take risks. We actually came up with the idea for the film while on the set of the Creative Film Alliance production of ‘Appleville,’ another film we worked on together.

For more information about the film,

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