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Six filmers take UCLA Spotlights

Decade-old program has launched several prominent filmmakers

Six UCLA filmmakers have received Spotlight Awards from the School of Theater, Film and Television for outstanding achievement in filmmaking.

Films honored were selected by students, faculty, alumni and a cross-section of industry professionals who judged projects in five categories.

They also awarded a special Judges’ Prize for Outstanding Film of 1998 to “god@heaven,” by Joseph Neulight, who sought to find out what happens when a little boy sends an e-mail to God.

The other winners were:

Drama: Marc Marriott for “The Snow Child,” a story, based loosely on a Russian folk tale, about a couple who unlock a frozen memory and invite magic into their lives;

Experimental: Jason Moore for “Paradise, Nebraska,” described simply by its director as being “all about your state of mind;”

Comedy: Danny Kaufman for “Eunice’s Secret,” about an obese woman who finds redemption in a lingerie shop;

Documentary: Christopher O’Dea for “A New Normal,” a look at the struggles that a young couple encounters during the last few months of their pregnancy, culminating in a tense, dramatic delivery;

Animation: Neil Ishimine for “Smoking,” about its joys and pains.

The panel of entertainment industry judges included director Greg Baxter; screenwriter Bennett Cohen; director-writer Karen Copeland; actor Lou Cutell; production designer Sidney Litwack; film editor Karen Rasch; and producer Chris Rehr.

The contest was created to enable student filmmakers to present their work to an entertainment industry audience and to bridge the gap between the university and the professional world. Since its inception more than a decade ago, Spotlight has helped launch many new filmmakers, including Brad Silberling (“Casper,” “City of Angels”) and Alexander Payne (“Citizen Ruth,” “Election”).

The awards ceremony took place Wednesday at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.