by Jill Thomas
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the winners of the 37th Student Academy Awards, and UCCS film student Sarah Lotfi — one of nine finalists waiting to hear if they'd taken an award for Best Narrative Film — recently got her notification.
"The letter I received was from the director of the Academy saying, 'You should consider yourself very honored to have made it this far as a national finalist; unfortunately, we have selected other winners.'" Lotfi explains with a laugh. "It was a polite way of saying, 'We didn't like your film enough,' but I am truly honored."
"If anything," says the 21-year-old director, "I hope to submit again next year."
At UCCS, an institution not known for producing filmmakers (most finalists were from schools in New York or California), Lotfi remains upbeat about the fact that The Last Bogatyr, a World War II story set in Russia, advanced so far. As it happens, Lotfi, who will graduate in 2011 with dual majors (communications, visual and performing arts), will be the first at UCCS to produce a feature film as a senior thesis project.
“I think the last time that anyone from Colorado made it to the finals was with the South Park creators," says Lotfi, "and that was almost 20 years ago. So I’m really excited for my state — to be from Colorado Springs and from UCCS and our growing film program — and to have gotten that national recognition.” (As University of Colorado-Boulder students, Trey Parker and Chris Graves won a silver award in the competition in 1993. Parker went on to become co-creator of the South Park animated TV series.)
For now, Lotfi hardly has time to ponder the loss as she juggles classes, homework and work on her films. She has completed a variety of shorts, including CHROMA: Planet of Color, La Mutacion de Fortune, Tudor Rose and Conflict of Interest, in genres ranging from sci-fi to animation to surrealism. Her senior thesis project, titled One Free Film, will be her first feature-length effort, and with it she's taking on an extra challenge. The movie, expected to be over an hour in length, will be filmed in one continuous shot.
Already in preparations for that project, Lotfi now looks at the 2010 Student Oscars as just one opportunity along the way.
"It’s a system, a Hollywood system, and some day I may get into it, but right now I just want to make sure I can continue making films," says Lotfi. "Recognitions are nice, they really are, but relationships with family and with your filmmaking team is what truly makes the art."