UTS alumni films selected for SXSW Film Festival

27 February 2017

Films by three UTS graduates have been selected for this year's internationally-renowned SXSW (South by Southwest) Film Festival, to be held in Austin, Texas in March.

Writer/director/producer Jessica M. Thompson (BA Communications – Media Arts & Production 2007) and producer Carlo Velayo (BA Communications Media Arts & Production and BA International Studies 2008) will be premiering their feature-length drama The Light of The Moon, along with the documentary Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web, produced by Alexander Behse (Master of Media Arts & Production 2003).

Still from The Light of the Moon

Stephanie Beatriz and Michael Stahl-David in The Light of the Moon,
written and directed by UTS graduate Jessica M Thompson, and co-produced with fellow graduate Carlo Velayo.

Thompson's directorial feature debut was one of only ten films selected from 1,442 entries in the Narrative Feature competition.

"We're very proud and very excited. It's an incredible honour and I think the exposure already has been amazing. We've had calls from so many agents, directors, contributors, producers, and lots of different film management teams," said Thompson.

The partnership between Thomspon and Velayo originated in 2003 when the two met during the first day of their Bachelor Arts in Communication (Media Arts and Production) degree at UTS. It was here they developed their technical and conceptual skills in film, sound and multimedia, and began their first steps into media production.

The two have since flourished both individually and in collaboration, making several award-winning short films together including Hike, Percepio and Across the Pond.

Dr Chris Caines, Senior Lecturer for Media Arts and Production (MAP), said collaborations like Thompson and Velayo's are common for graduates making their mark overseas.

"As The Light of the Moon shows, many of our most successful graduates carry with them the creative relationships they formed as students into productive professional relationships that establish them in the industry," he said.

International recognition for MAP alumni in festivals like SXSW is also frequent. "Alongside regularly winning places in national and international film and media festivals, the global cohort of UTS MAP alumni is well represented in production houses and creative industries globally," Dr Caines added.

Thompson, who founded Stedfast Productions in the US six years ago, believes UTS gave her the tools to build experience.

"I really thank UTS for giving me that hands-on, practical knowledge. I like that we were actually able to touch film, and shoot film, and edit on film and (although obviously that's a little bit more obsolete these days) we were encouraged to make as many films as possible and the sky was the limit," she said, speaking on the phone from New York City.

Now in its 24th year, the SXSW Film Festival showcases an eclectic mix of films from across the globe, as part of the broader SXSW Festival of interactive media, creative arts, creative and music festivals and conferences, and attracts thousands of international industry and creative leaders to Texas each year.

Story by Olivia Stanley