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Cal State LA students win big at the 2015 CSU Media Arts Festival

December 1, 2015


Two Cal State LA students in the TV, Film and Theatre MFA program took top prizes at the 2015 California State University Media Arts Festival. 

More than 4,000 students across the CSU submitted work to the annual festival, which celebrates film, video and new media.

Cal State LA student Robert Ellsworth received the first place Rosebud Award in the feature screenplay category for his script, The Sect. The film tells the story of a near fatal encounter that leads a man into a steamy relationship with a mysterious woman on the lam from a sinister sect. What follows is a nightmare of illusion, betrayal, and psychological terror. The screenplay illustrates that beauty is only sin deep.

Student Matt Braaten took third place in the feature screenplay category for his script, Cu Chi. Cu Chi is the first episode of a miniseries in which two Marine Corps pilots crash in the Vietnamese jungle during the final months of World War II. One pilot is rescued by U.S. allies. The other is aided by a poor rice farmer, who must risk his life to guide the pilot on a treacherous journey through mountains and dense jungle to make it to safety.

“I am so proud of Rob and Matt's win in the Feature Screenplay category,” said Kristiina Hackel, director of the MFA Program in Television, Film and Theatre. “Although we have won Rosebuds in other media arts categories, this is our first writing win. I think it speaks to the talent of the students in the MFA Dramatic Writing Option, as well as the work of our excellent faculty.”

The festival is an opportunity for CSU students to showcase their work before a panel of distinguished faculty and entertainment industry professionals.

This year’s festival was co-sponsored by the CSU Entertainment Industry Initiative and Cal State LA’s College of Arts and Letters. A panel of industry experts chose 42 finalists out of 194 entries from 17 CSU campuses. 

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Photo: L-r, Cal State LA Professor Enrique Berumen and screenwriting students Matt Braaten and Robert Ellsworth. (Credit: Heather Fipps/Cal State LA)

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Cal State LA is a university dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 27,000 students and 240,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the city we serve. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Cal State LA has long been recognized as an engine of economic and social mobility. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex, TV, Film and Media Center and the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. For more information, visit