The University of Miami School of Communication was a big winner at Miami International Film Festival’s (MIFF) CinemaSlam, taking home four out of seven possible awards. SoC films won Best Documentary, Best Actor, Best Director, and Miami CinemaSlam Champion 2016 at the fifth annual local student competition.

The UM film I Want to Beat Up Clark Peters, which focuses on getting revenge on a “hook up who hooked up with someone else,” scooped up awards for Best Actor, Best Director, and CinemaSlam Champion. Director Joseph Picozzi, a graduate of the Cinema and Interactive Media Department, came up with the idea for the film about a year before shooting by combining a number of stories shared between his friends.

“I felt like there wasn’t a contemporary take on college relationships, nor one where the guy, not the girl, was the one who wanted a relationship. It also came out of a desire to make a film that was unmistakably “me”- one that I had an authority to tell. Like the saying “write what you know” – I wanted to write a world that I knew.  The film is more about the fear of getting the person you like taken away from you and how that fear drives you crazy,” said Picozzi.

I want to Beat Up Clark Peters has been featured in festivals all over the country, including the 2015 Humphrey Bogart Film Festival in Key Largo, Fla., the 2015 Hollywood Verge Film Awards, and the 2015 University of Miami’s Canes Film Festival. Most notably, the film was recently nominated for a 2016 College Television Award for Best Comedy by the Television Academy Foundation. Winners will be announced on May 25.

Winning CinemaSlam’s Best Documentary category, Vicenta and Hospitalito was shot in Guatemala as part of an SoC program in which students create a film which brings attention to international issues while living abroad with limited resources.

The documentary, directed by graduate student Ronnie Khalil, was the only documentary shot abroad in the student competition. Cinema and Interactive Media Professor Konstantia Kontaxis believes the international element made the documentary stand out above the rest of the submissions.

“Entering a documentary is always a surprise, because there are always such amazing entries. But this one stood out because it was the only one filmed internationally and shot in the native dialect, which had to be translated for subtitles. It stood out, and the award was well-deserved,” said Kontaxis.

Kontaxis is an award-winning filmmaker and media artist, who is currently instructing the most advanced editing classes in the SoC. Vicenta and Hospitalito was edited in her advanced editing course.

Kontaxis has attended CinemaSlam since its inauguration in 2011 and acts as a liaison between MIFF and the students. Although this is the fifth year of the competition, this is the first year a UM film is named CinemaSlam Champion.

“It was like ‘Ahh finally!’ We are always told we are the best, but this is the first year we got an award to prove it. For current students, winning this award encourages them to finish their projects, and put them out there. Overall, it felt good. It was a great UM year,” says Kontaxis.