July 6, 2004

Contact: Chuck Berg, theatre and film department, (785) 864-1344.

KU student film entries sweep KAN film festival; professor receives Bravo Award

LAWRENCE -- University of Kansas student entries swept the awards in the college division, including the prized Kansas Film Commission Scholarship award, and a KU theatre and film professor received the Bravo Award during the 2004 KAN Film Festival June 5 at the Lawrence Arts Center.

KU students received first and second place in each of the four categories in the college division. Jeremy Osbern, 2004 spring graduate from Lawrence, won three top awards including the Kansas Film Commission $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond scholarship for the best college division entry.

Works by 81 local filmmakers were screened at the 13th annual event, including 16 entries in the college division. KU students and alumni also won second- and third-place awards in the open division categories.

Later this year, KAN winners will be selected for screenings at other local major film festivals -- FilmFest KC in Kansas City, Mo., and the Kansas International Film Festival (formerly Halfway to Hollywood) in Overland Park, according to Pat Hamarstrom, KAN Film Festival executive director.

Osbern's film, "The Passion," won the top college division award, first place in the division and second place in the open division. His 16-minute film is a study of obsession and jealousy as illustrated through two dancers who use their bodies as moving billboards as they write the words of their passion on each other.

In addition, Osbern with composer Steven Unruh, Bella Vista, Ark., KU social welfare alumnus, also won first place for their music video, "Square 1," in the college division. Osbern created and directed the video.

"El Jardin," a 26-minute film by Ranjit Arab, KU alumnus, Lawrence, and his cinematographer, Aaron Paden, Baldwin senior, won in two divisions: first place in the college division and third place in the open division, both in the documentary category.

Written and directed by Arab, "El Jardin," traces a Kansas Board of Education member's attempts to remove children of illegal immigrants or undocumented workers from Kansas public schools -- despite a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision that says the children must be educated. Arab focused on Garden City, a southwest Kansas community that has seen a steady increase of immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Southeast Asia, since the arrival of meatpacking plants in the early 1980s and has worked to include every child in its public education system.

In the college drama/comedy category, Christopher Dean Blunk, senior from Omaha, Neb, received first place for his video, "Ideal." Blunk wrote and directed the 17.5-minute film, which portrays a struggle between two writers, one respected and the other regarded as a hack, competing for same story idea. Jeremy Osbern was Blunk's cinematographer.

Both Osbern and Blunk were enrolled in the KU honors programs, and two of their films were honors projects: "Square 1" and "Ideal." Osbern and Blunk also traveled to the June 5 Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival with films they produced at KU. Osbern submitted "The Passion" and Blunk, "The Fascist of X-Mart."

Chuck Berg, KU chair of theatre and film, received the 2004 Bravo Award. A longtime sponsor and an advisory board member for KAN, Berg joined the KU faculty in 1977 to coordinate a film program that continues to reflect his belief in a balanced curriculum that embraces production, history, theory and criticism. Berg serves as an editorial adviser to the Journal of Film and Video and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Dramatic Art and Criticism and the Journal of Popular Music and Society.

Berg's teaching extends beyond the classroom through his writing for the Topeka Capital-Journal on topics ranging from theatre and film to music. Berg is also a professional jazz musician. In 2000, he received a W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence and in 1999 was selected by students as a Mortar Board Outstanding Educator.

The KAN Independent Filmmaker Award was presented to Steve Balderson for his outstanding regional work. Balderson took his first film, "PepSquad," to the Cannes Film Festival in France. He recently completed the filming of "Firecracker," starring Karen Black, in his hometown of Wamego. The world premiere of his documentary, "Wamego," kicked off the festival at the Glenwood Arts Theatre in Overland Park.

The KAN Film Festival is principally sponsored by the Kansas Arts Commission, the Kansas Film Commission and the Missouri Film Commission. Additional sponsors include the Muriel McBrian Kauffman Foundation, Avila University, the KU Theatre and Film Department, the Film Society of Greater Kansas City, FilmFest Kansas City, Halfway to Hollywood, Independent Filmmakers Coalition Kansas City, Crosscuts Films by Women, Glenwood Arts Theatre, and Brian and Ben Mossman.

First-place winners received $150 U.S. savings bonds or $75 cash awards; second place, a $100 U.S. savings bond or a $50 cash award; and third place, a $50 U.S. savings bond or a $25 cash award. With the exception of the college division $1,000 award, division winners received $250 in U.S. savings bonds.

KU students winning awards and their hometowns and faculty sponsors are:

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Baldwin
Aaron Paden, senior in biology and sociology, son of Mr. and Mrs. David Paden; college documentary first place, cinematographer for "El Jardin," written and directed by Ranjit Arab; Jon Broholm, KU associate professor of journalism, faculty sponsor.

From Lawrence
Jeremy L. Osbern, 2004 spring graduate in theatre and film, son of Mike and Linda Osbern; Lawrence Free State High School graduate; college division winner, college original first place, "The Passion"; Matthew Jacobson, KU assistant professor of theatre and film, faculty sponsor; and college music video first place with composer Steven Unruh for "Square 1."
Mark Von Schlemmer, Ph.D. student in theatre and film; second place in open music video for "Shadow of the Czar," written by Robert Baker and performed by Malarkey.

From Lawrence and Wichita
Ranjit D. Arab, son of Mr. and Mrs. Dushyant Arab, 1993 journalism graduate; Wichita Collegiate HS graduate; college documentary first place and open documentary third place for "El Jardin"; Jon Broholm, KU associate professor of journalism, faculty sponsor. In spring 2003, Arab was enrolled in Tom Volek's class on documentary/corporate video and produced "El Jardin" for the course.

HARVEY COUNTY
From Newton and Bella Vista, Ark.
Steven T. Unruh, son of Earl W. Unruh, 1990 KU graduate in social welfare; college music video first place composer for "Square 1," produced and directed by Jeremy Osbern, running time five minutes; Matthew Jacobson, KU assistant professor of theatre and film, faculty sponsor.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Olathe
Daniel Joseph Ryckert, sophomore in theatre and film, son of Terri Hannam; Olathe East HS graduate; college drama/comedy second place, "Foghat Live"; Matthew Jacobson, KU assistant professor of theatre and film, faculty sponsor. Ryckert wrote, shot and directed his film of a comedy sketch for KUJH-TV at KU.

From Overland Park
Melissa DuBlois Mairs, December 2003 graduate in theatre and film, daughter of Kenneth and Patricia Mairs; college documentary second place, "The Nuts and Bolts of Whips and Chains: A Conversation with Contra Naturam," 18-minute film; Tamara Falicov, KU assistant professor of theatre and film, faculty sponsor. Her film documents people who perform and live on the cutting edge of society through the fetish performance group Contra Naturam. Mairs previously screened her film at the 2004 Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee and the 2004 DCIFF in Washington, D.C., Independent Film Festival.

From Shawnee
Paul A. Santos, theatre and film major, son of Fermin and Maria Santos; Bishop Miege High School graduate and attended Johnson County Community College; College Original second place for "Moving Things While the Camera's Off," running time: two minutes, seven seconds; Edward Small, KU professor of theatre and film, faculty sponsor. Santos' film uses stop-motion stills of people and places around KU to create an animated effect.

ARKANSAS
From Bella Vista and Newton, Kan.
Steven T. Unruh. See Harvey County, Kan.

NEBRASKA
From Omaha
Christopher Dean Blunk, spring 2004 graduate in English, son of Rick and Ginger Blunk; Millard South High School graduate and Peru State College in Peru, Neb.; college drama/comedy first place, "Ideal," running time 17 minutes, 30 seconds; Matthew Jacobson, KU assistant professor of theatre and film, faculty sponsor.

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