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Student Programming Board Announces Winners of Eighth Annual Reelstories Film Festival

Seven feature films and one short film created by Seaver College students were recognized at the eighth annual Reelstories Film Festival (RSFF) hosted by the Pepperdine University Student Programming Board at Mullin Town Square on the Malibu campus on Friday, February 3.

“The quality of the films this year really surpassed those of previous years,” shared Justin Wirawan, Seaver College senior, cochair of the Student Programming Board’s Film and Entertainment Committee, and RSFF executive director.

“The stories and the films are really becoming standouts on their own, and it’s not just about the glamour and the glitz of the event—it’s about the stories that are being told, and I think that’s pretty important.”

The night’s top winning films were:

The Bear

Through a series of flashbacks, audiences learn the story of a homeless man and how his perfect existence was suddenly shattered after a tragic, life-altering event.

  • Directed by Keeyana Kian
  • Screenplay by Mallory Erwin
  • Cinematography by Alexander Bonelli
  • Editing by Susanne Pettersen and Irene Chun
  • Score by Sam Hinrichsen


Filmmaker Moises Barba highlights the true story of his uncle, an undocumented citizen trapped between the American dream and his roots in Mexico.

  • Directed by Moises Barba
  • Screenplay by Moises Barba
  • Cinematography by Moises Barba
  • Editing by Moises Barba
  • Score by Moises Barba

Night Lights

After the death of their son, a young American couple sets off on a road trip into the Australian Outback to escape their grief.

  • Directed by Isabella Issa
  • Screenplay by Eryn Ramsey
  • Cinematography by April Rock
  • Editing by Briana Chmielewski
  • Score by Nyah Wilson

The Noise

A young student moves in with a new roommate. Everything seems well, until one day a mysterious noise threatens his sanity.

  • Directed by Peter DiGrazia and Jeffrey Lai
  • Screenplay by Jalene Clymore and Jeffrey Lai
  • Cinematography by Peter DiGrazia and Andrew Lucero
  • Editing by Jeffrey Lai
  • Score by Jeffrey Lai


A young man from the Bronx goes into an interview, where he takes an unorthodox approach and decides to open up about his past.

  • Directed by Isabella Issa
  • Screenplay by Isabella Issa
  • Cinematography by Matt Benton and Jack Miller
  • Editing by Tori Santi
  • Score by Sara Kimura

Shut Down

In a hyper connected world, Andrew undertakes a journey to rediscover connection in its purest form. One day his world is shattered when he drops his phone.

  • Directed by Buddy Kennedy
  • Screenplay by Buddy Kennedy
  • Cinematography by Orion Keen
  • by Nicholas Manning
  • Score by Paul DiRico

Those Eyes of Yours

Set in the countryside of Jamaica, two lovers from different worlds find refuge and acceptance in each other.

  • Directed by Isabella Issa
  • Screenplay by Isabella Issa
  • Cinematography by Isabella Issa
  • Editing by Isabella Issa
  • Score by Nyah Wilson

Special recognition was also given to the following student filmmakers:

Best Cinematography 

  • April Rock for Night Lights

Best Directing

  • Isabella Issa for Night Lights

Best Editing

  • Briana Chmielewski for Night Lights

Best Original Score

  • Nyah Wilson for Night Lights

Best Original Screenplay

  • Isabella Issa for Parallels

Best Picture

  • Moises Barba for Desarraigado

Additional winners included:

Audience Choice Award

  • Moises Barba for Desarraigado

Audience Choice winner of Shorts Competition

  • Matt Benton for Away In Clouds

The night’s events were organized through the Reelstories Board of Directors:

  • Joshua Barrentes
  • Alexander Corwin
  • Chelsea Erselius
  • Jared Evangelista
  • Kristina Hsieh
  • Alina Matsuda
  • Caroline Rubach
  • Justin Wirawan

For additional information about the event, visit the Reelstories Film Festival website.