On Saturday, April 1, at Pittsburgh Filmmakers Melwood Screening Room, the 2017 Short Film Competition's Screening & Networking Event hosted over 50 attendees to celebrate the successes of local and international filmmakers. Over 60 short films were submitted to our judges this year, making it one of our most successful competitions yet. The films came from all over the world including countries like France, Italy, Canada, and the United States.

The Short Film Competition buzzes and hums under the Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival. This annual event celebrates and encourages local and international filmmakers in their pursuit of cinematic excellence.

The Top 7 films as well as the awarded submissions made by high schoolers were screened live at our event. After the screening, the networking reception encouraged continued conversation between judges, filmmakers, and local professionals.

Take a look at some pictures taken at our event!

Filmmakers of the Top 10 film “Soup and Salad”

Filmmakers of the Top 10 film “Happy Hour”

2017 Short Film Competition Committee

Networking Event


GRAND PRIZE WINNER: FABRICE BRACQ - “A Whole World for A Little World”

Fabrice Bracq is from France. He could not make it to our event because he is currently living in Poland. He started out filming “making of documentaries” for feature films. Then he went onto work for the ECPAD (The cinema organization for French Army) where he made a variety of films, for museums, for Ministry of Defense and for TV. During that time, he also directed short films and documentaries, of which several Africa. In 2012, he filmed “Love Birds”, a drama set in the near future. Then came the short films “Split time” and “Time 2 Split” which have now been officially selected in over 240 international festivals and have won several awards. These were followed by the comedy’s shorts “Diagnosis” and “Dad in mum” selected by 100 and 260 international festivals respectively and the recipients of several audience awards. With these films, he won more than 110 awards around the world. All these short films have been bought by and shown on France Télévisions.

Judges’ opinions:

This film investigates identity in terms of how one may narrate herself to a person she loves. This, along with other common markers of identity, is important, perhaps the most important way by which we project our identity. For what the film sought to do, and given the constraints of budget and the short film, I think it did nicely in telling a whimsical, but sad story of love and loss. The lighting (especially the usage of shadow) the strategic uses of special effects, and the character expression/movement made for an excellent construction of mise-en-scene that imbued the film with the whimsy that defined it.


Simon Panay is a 23 year old from France. He made his first fictional short film at 19. In 2012, he shot his first documentary film in Africa: "Tontines, une affaire de femmes" (52min) and in 2014 his second documentary "Waiting for the (t)rain" (26min). This film got 132 Official Selections all over the world and 31 Awards. In 2014, he received a prize of best talented young director of the year from the prestigious organization ARP.

Judges’ opinions:

Through the central metaphor of the promise of the ‘mountain,’ this film powerfully asked how dreams rarely become reality. Indeed, it even shows how genuine ambition, in an environment where less opportunities exist, may be vampirically lost within a cyclical culture of corruption. I don’t think it blames any one person or entity, but the (literal and metaphoric) hunt for gold speaks to something inherent to all our identities. The film balances visual narration brilliantly with testimony. Again, it doesn’t villain-ize or mock any of its subjects. Rather, this balance speaks universally. The gorgeous shots of the landscape and the haunting sequences beneath the earth reflect the clashing of dream and reality.


Diego Maria Malara is an Italian anthropologist working at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include art, cinema, Christianity, everyday life in urban settings, and the anthropology of the body. He has conducted research in Ethiopia since 2008, focusing on topics related to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and traditional healing. More recently, he has developed a keen interest in spirit possession and exorcism. His first ethnographic film "The Devil and the Holy Water" seeks to produce a visual account of exorcism that does not explain away the complexity of possession through external academic narratives. Rather, it presents spirits in their immanent rawness while celebrating their mystery and ultimate unknowability. This is the first visual essay in which he has worked as a director within an international, professional team.

Judges’ opinions:

The filming was so good. Great use of editing to tell the story. Great cinematography. Great interviews that really explained the narrative. The editing was very good with all the interviews and scenes.


FIRST PLACE: AZURE ALLEN - “From Dogs To Wolves”

Azure Allen is a 16 year old, homeschooled animator, musician ∓ writer based in Myrtle Beach, SC. When she was 8 years old she began doing stop motion animation with a v-tech play camera, and has been enamored by the craft ever since. She currently works in 2D, frame by frame, hand drawn animation,which is what you see in her films. In her spare time she practices watercolor painting and guitar. Azure hopes to one day merge the best technologies and programming capabilities to create a simplistic, but powerful, comprehensive animation program for 2d and 3rd animators.


Ross Mitchell is a junior at Mt Lebanon High School. He is interested in digital effects and cinematography.

THIRD PLACE: GEORGIA EDDY - “Choices are Life”

Georgia Eddy is a high school senior and an upcoming freshman at Texas A∓M planning to study Business Management. Georgia began her interest in filmmaking at a young age with her sister by making various home movies. In high school she took an Audio Visual Productions class which allowed her to venture more into her interest in filmmaking.


Len Caric is the co-founder of AmericanArk Films with Mark Fallone. Under AmericanArk Films, Len was Executive Producer and Producer of “Henry Hornbostel: In Architecture and Legacy.” This production aired on WQED, Pittsburgh Public Television Station first on November 22, 2013 and appears currently in rotation. “Henry Hornbostel: In Architecture and Legacy” was selected for the 2014 Napa Valley Film Festival. Len also Produce and Directed “Roof of the World” which was also featured on WQED. Len is an Adjunct Instructor in the Masters of Entertainment Industry Management program at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School and also teaches Entrepreneurship a the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon. In addition to AmericanArk Films, Len has been a serial entrepreneur for over 30 years in Western Pennsylvania. Currently, Len is President and CEO of Uncle Charley’s Sausage Company and is a former Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist. Len received his Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana and an MBA from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.

Bret Vukoder is a Ph.D. candidate and an Instructor in Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Broadly, his research concerns American film and the extent to which it forms, reinforces, and disseminates cultural practice. More specifically, he focuses on the motion pictures of the massive Cold War propaganda entity, the United States Information Agency (USIA). He considers how the agency constructed and appropriated the films as ideological weapons during the Cold War, also working to contextualize them within their conditions of production and the channels through which they were conveyed. At CMU, Bret teaches multiple courses focused on film theory, history, and culture. And in the past, he has composed screenplays for films that have been featured in such venues as the Nashville, Aesthetica, and Rural Route film festivals. Bret previously earned an M.A. in Literature and a B.S. with majors in English, Political Science, and Business and a minor in film studies from the University of Tennessee. This is Bret's first year working with the CMU International Film Festival.

Jessica Conner is a film, mass communications and marketing professional with over 16-years of experience. She has a vast knowledge of the film industry from pre-production to post-production as well as working in marketing, non-profit management, event management, media and public relations. She currently works freelance in the commercial production industry. For fourteen years she was the Assistant Director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. Throughout her 14-year tenure with the film office, Conner assisted in marketing the southwestern Pennsylvania region to the film industry resulting in over $900 million to the local economy and thousands of local jobs. She assisted in all aspects of local production, including location scouting, finding crew and vendors and other local resources to support a film, television or commercial production. Some films she assisted include Concussion; The Dark Knight Rises; The Fault in Our Stars; Foxcatcher and Me, Earl, & the Dying Girl to name just a few. Jessica also worked on many initiatives to support the very successful Film Tax Credit program in Pennsylvania. Conner is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Communications and a minor in Film Studies. She also has a Master’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Point Park University. She is a native of Pittsburgh, PA.

Jonathan Trueblood is a Pittsburgh based professor, animator, illustrator, and graphic designer. Jonathan graduated from Edinboro University of PA with a degree in Animation. After graduation, he moved to New York City where he worked at several motion graphics and animation studios creating television commercials and music videos. His clients included MTV, ESPN, the NFL, and many more. Jonathan came back to Pittsburgh and received his Masters of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University. He then returned to Edinboro University and taught animation for 4 years before joining the animation department at Point Park University where he has been for the last 2 years. Jonathan continues to do freelance animation including four animations for TED Ed. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, April, and two little boys, Cash and Tig.

Lesley Smith is our student judge. She is a Film Studies and English Writing Student at The University of Pittsburgh. She works for CMU IFF in the Programming Department and will be representing them in this contest. She is a preparing to graduate and an aspiring screenwriter who spends most of her time writing scenes. Though this is her first year with CMU IFF, she has worked with them since August and they now feel like family to her.