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NMSU student’s short film qualifies for Academy Award through festival selection

A short film made by New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute will be shown at a prestigious international film festival next month, qualifying it for an Academy Award.

Father hugging his daughter
A scene from the film “Princess,” written by an NMSU student and produced by NMSU’s Creative Media Institute, will be screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival and now qualifies for an Academy Award. (Courtesy Photo)

“Princess,” a 7-minute film written by NMSU CMI student Mary Grace Hill and directed by CMI assistant professor Ross Marks was chosen to be part of the official competition at the 39th annual Cleveland International Film Festival scheduled March 18-29.

It is one of 180 films selected from more than 4,000 submissions.

As part of the film’s selection into the festival, “Princess” is now eligible for the Academy Award live-action short category.

The project was conceived and written by Hill in a screenwriting class taught by Marks. He describes the story of a little girl who grows up into a brave, young woman before her father’s eyes as a tribute to women in the armed forces and a powerful father-daughter story.

"As a screenwriting teacher, I am always trying to get my students to create stories with genuine human emotion. Mary Grace Hill’s screenplay called “Princess” literally moved me to tears,” Ross said. “I actually cried in front of the students when we read the screenplay aloud in class. I said to myself, ‘I have to go make that film.’”

Ross reached out to recent CMI graduate Dave Witt to be the film’s producer. CMI assistant professor Mitch Fowler was the director of photography and CMI assistant professor Sherwin Lau was editor and sound designer.

“Their hard work and talent helped make the script come alive,” Ross explained. “Using the talents and resources of the Creative Media Institute, we were able to make an extremely emotional and well-made short film. I am proud of our department and the resulting film."

The film is available to watch on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/120203590.