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Alabama students win at Campus MovieFest International

Mari Johnson

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Students from all over the world traveled to Hollywood this past week to showcase their award-winning films in the Campus MovieFest International Grand Finale.

Several weeks ago, students from the University of Alabama were invited to Campus MovieFest International, the world’s largest student film festival, because of their student films that placed in the UA Campus MovieFest.

Xavier Burgin, a senior majoring in film production, received the award for Best 3D Film at the grand finale. According to Burgin, his film “Portrait of a Storm,” provided an up-close look at the April 27 tornado and included personal accounts from survivors as scenes of the devastation filled the screen.

Burgin was awarded a $5,000 scholarship for his movie and said his award was a validation of his work.

“When my name was called for Best 3D Film, a weight lifted off my shoulders and another rested atop my head when I realized I had to give a speech,” Burgin said. “Still, I managed to trudge forward and give an outstanding speech on the devastation of the Tuscaloosa Tornado and the necessity of keeping our plight in the limelight of the media’s eyes.”

Burgin and his team, Que the Lights, previously won Best Drama at the University of Alabama Campus MovieFest for their film “Bottom of a Glass.”

“Even though my first film ‘Bottom of a Glass’ didn’t win, had it not been for doing that movie first, I would have never got the chance to work on the 3D film, which allowed me to move on to the next level and make my award winning film,” Burgin said.

The students also got a chance to meet several celebrities and people involved in the film industry. Thomas Coiner, a senior and creator of the claymation “Blue Barry,” had the pleasure of going to Hollywood and said everyone learned a lot and had a good time.

“One night, we went to an improv comedy show to see Donald Glover, which was really cool,” Coiner said. “We got a good dose of L.A.”

Coiner, whose film placed in the Top 28, said he was proud of all of the students from Alabama and their accomplishments.

“I realize why 32 million people live in L.A. Because it’s a beautiful place.”

Andrew Carey, a 2011 graduate and director of “Sugarbaby,” also placed in the Top 28 films and said it was a really good year for CMF in terms of dramas.

“Usually, you get a lot of dramas that are corny, but four of the top five films were dramas,” he said.

Carey was able to tour Turner Studios and said the workshops he attended were very enlightening about how to enter the film industry.

“Most of the celebrity presenters said that if you want to get into the industry, you should come to L.A. and start with low-end jobs and work your way up,” Carey said.

Burgin said he got the chance to meet Gabourey Sidibe, star of the movie “Precious.” He also said he enjoyed himself overall and was able to exchange business cards with over 200 people in the film industry.

“This entire event felt like a microcosm of the industry,” he said. “I may not meet everyone at the top and I may not even make it to the top, but these were the people I would later shake hands with if I did.”

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Alabama students win at Campus MovieFest International