Media Arts and Design

DVC Students Won Big at Poe Film Festival


"The Golden Cage," a documentary film produced by SMAD alums Maeve Reiss and Kacey Dolan, won 2018 College Film Awards for Best Documentary at the Poe Film Festival.

The Poe Film Festival is an annual event held in Richmond, which celebrates the work of college filmmakers who are inspired by storyteller Edgar Allen Poe. More than 30 universities in the Mid-Atlantic region are invited to compete for recognition in several categories, such as technical merit, artistic merit, best documentary and best screenplay.

"The Golden Cage" documents the Harrisonburg community’s effort to stop unjust labor practices in poultry processing plants. The film shows the sense of community within Harrisonburg in support of workers’ rights.

"Winning this award was a bit shocking but also very exciting," Reiss said. "We were so excited to just have been selected into the festival and able to make an appearance. We didn’t expect much more."

"The Right Way," a film by Michael Schwartz and other SMAD students was nominated in categories for artistic merit and screenwriting. The film is a short drama about a recently released drug dealer as he attempts to keep his life on the straight while his sister tries to pull him back into the world of crime.

Schwartz developed the screenplay through the New York City program with help from Professor Imelda O'Reilly in summer 2018. Schwartz worked with other students, including Sam Parker, Peter Humble and Shank Rai, to produce the film.

Reflecting on his experience producing this film, Schwartz talked about his most memorable moments.

"My favorite parts of making the film was getting the chance to work with professional actors, cinematographers, and editors as well as having access to shoot in studio sets," Schwartz said. "I was able to see the final film in a full-sized theater, which provides an experience you simply can't get normally."

These students received help from their mentors and DVC faculty, professors O’Reilly and Shaun Wright. Reiss said their support was essential to their success.

"It was reassuring — giving us some extra confidence in understanding we can do this, we can produce a good film," Reiss said. "We couldn’t have done it without their mentorship and support."

This award was a stepping stone for Reiss to achieve a bigger dream.

"Have short-term dreams, and they will soon add up and get you to a bigger dream," Reiss said.

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Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Last Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021

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