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Lander University Announces Winners of 14th Annual Film Festival

Pictured, from left, are Winston Cely, second place, Open Division; Nick Stevenson, third place, Open Division; Lauren Douda, second place, High School Division; Austin Rios, first place, High School Division; Alex Moreno, second place, College Division; Killian Cook, first place, College Division; Joey Plyler, first place, Open Division; and Tyler Shenal, third place, College Division. Photo by Sheridan Carpenter

Lander University concluded the 14th Annual Film Festival on Saturday, March 30. The event was an exciting, annual celebration of cinematic skill within the community. During the festival, student and community filmmakers alike were recognized for their entries into the Short Film Competition. In addition to this, festival-goers heard excellent presentations given by actor Michael Genevie; Dr. Misty Jameson, professor of English and film studies; screenwriter and actor Shelley Reid; and Dr. Daniel M. Harrison, professor of sociology.

When asked to reflect on this year’s festival, professor of journalism and festival director Dr. Robert Stevenson said, “We had a full slate of wonderful film presentations by professors as well as professionals in the field. The short film competitors did a wonderful job this year. The judges had a difficult time choosing because they were all so good. It was exciting watching the audience, scared one minute and laughing the next.”

Filmmakers in the Short Film Competition were challenged with a mere eight days to write, film and submit their films for judging. When asked about her experience as a filmmaker in the College Division, Keely Dutton, said, “I came into this program with the mindset that I could get everything done in one day. I had to write, cast, film and edit, which took me the whole eight days. You never really realize how much you have to put in to create a five minute film, but over ten hours’ worth of content was edited into one five-minute film.”

Killian Cook, another filmmaker in the College Division, had a similar experience in directing his film, “Hungover.”

When asked about his experience participating in this year’s festival, Cook said, “I love the film festival so much because it fosters so much creativity and problem solving in the people doing it.” He continued, stating, “Having a week to write, film, edit and produce a movie is a lot harder than it sounds… But that’s what’s so great about it, you learn so much about filmmaking just by doing it, and it forces you to work around your obstacles to make a good product. Win, lose or draw, at the end of the day just having a film you made and understanding the care and effort you put into it is all that really matters and it’s something to be proud of!”


High School Division Winners:

  • Third Place: “My Choice,” by Kendall Pinette, of Lexington High School.
  • Second Place: “Monster,” by Lauren Douda, of Lexington High School.
  • First Place: “Apathetix,” by Austin Rios, of Lexington High School.


College Division Winners:

  • Third Place: “No One’s Coming,” by Tyler Shenal, of Piedmont Technical College.
  • Second Place: “Hit Piece,” by Alex Moreno, a senior media and communication major at Lander from Simpsonville.
  • First Place: “Hungover,” by Killian Cook, a sophomore media and communication major at Lander from Greenville.


Open Division Winners:

  • Third Place: “Troll Trouble,” by Nick Stevenson, of Greenwood. Stevenson is an alumnus of Lander’s media and communication program.
  • Second Place: “The Best Solution,” by Winston Cely, of Anderson.
  • First Place: “Third Date,” by Joey Plyler, of Ruby. Plyler is an alumnus of Lander’s media and communication program.


Honorable Mentions:

In addition to the awards for each division, Plyler’s “Third Date” also received the award for Best Screenplay, with an honorable mention given to Rios’ “Apathetix.” Meanwhile Noah Bunting and Olivia Weeks received awards for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively, for their roles in Plyler’s film.


The submissions to the Short Film Competition can be viewed by visiting

Support for the Lander University Film Festival comes from a grant from South Carolina Humanities. The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c)3 organization is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos, and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually. South Carolina Humanities receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as corporate, foundation and individual donors.