by Lucy Leitner
As a recent (i.e., last week) graduate of Point Park University, Madeline Puzzo has already accomplished something Sam Peckinpah never did by getting nominated for a Best Director Oscar. Puzzo and fellow Point Park recent grad Mark Christian have recently been named finalists the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 39th Annual Student Academy Awards competition for their short film Requited. Like the films of the legendary snubbed director, Christian and Puzzo’s short is a Western.
After being betrayed by a lifelong friend during a heist, John is forced to kill his younger brother Peter. While searching for vengeance, he realizes that his life of thieving and violence has brought no good.
The 12-minute Western was shot in January in Benson, AZ and Bedford, PA. Christian and Puzzo used a crew of twenty (including some Point Park students) and over a dozen cast members to create their ambitious senior thesis. Christian and Puzzo are not just the first Point Park students to be nominated for a Student Oscar, but two of the few undergraduates represented in the top nine. Christian served as writer and cinematographer while Puzzo was the director and production designer. Of the 560 student films submitted, only 36 are left with nine in each of the four categories—alternative, animation, documentary, and narrative. Gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded in each category with cash grants of $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000, respectively.
“This visually stunning, moving picture is a result of an intense collaborative process,” says Nelson Chipman, chair of Point Park’s cinema and digital arts department, of the film nominated in the Narrative category.
The Student Academy Awards will be held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills where the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hopefully exercise better judgement than they have in recent years and selected Requited as the winner.