Short Cuts

UT filmmakers get Guggenheims, spots at Cannes, and more. Plus: SXSW is never over.

Ellen Spiro
Ellen Spiro

Hey, That's My Guggenheim! Dept.: It's been something of a banner month for University of Texas filmmakers, faculty and otherwise. Both Ellen Spiro and Mitko Panov of UT's College of Communication have been appointed Guggenheim fellows, which, frankly, is about as profound an honor as an artist can receive short of ending up on a box of Wheaties. Panov, who has taught film production at UT since 1998, was honored for his work Texas Weeds, "a fictional film detailing the demise of an American farming family struggling with globalization," according to UT. Spiro, who with her Mobilus Media producing partner, Karen Bernstein, is currently at work on the PBS documentary Troop 1500: Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (which sounds like a Roger Corman vehicle, but trust us on this, it isn't), was awarded the Guggenheim based on her doc Atomic Ed and the Black Hole. As with Panov, Spiro has taught filmmaking at UT-Austin since 1998. "I've been applying for the Guggenheim for years," Spiro told "Short Cuts" the other day, "to the point where I started referring to it as 'deja-gu' when it came time for me to ask my people to write the letters for me, again. But this really couldn't be a better year for me to get it, because of [Troop 1500], which is the most significant thing I've ever worked on." Of the doc, which follows a group of Girl Scouts of America whose mothers are incarcerated in the Texas penal system, Spiro says, "The experience of making it is just constantly blowing my mind in various ways. Mostly due to the incredible resilience of these girls and how tough, how amazing they are. And their moms, too. It's a story that needs to be told." Congratulations to both Panov and Spiro... In other UT filmmaking news, graduate students Karen Skloss and John Fiege have been invited to screen their short films at the legendary, 57th annual Cannes Film Festival, which runs May 12-23 this year in, of all places, Cannes, France. (You'd be surprised how many people seem to think it's in Brooklyn.) Skloss' film, "Smitten," is "an 11-minute experimental narrative that traces the ups and downs of a junior high romance as seen through the eyes of an 8th grade girl," according to UT. Fiege's film, "Bebe," is "a highly visual, lyrical and comical 16mm film about a little girl's reaction to her father's self-absorbed attempts to achieve enlightenment," and has also been selected to appear as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmakers Showcase. Congratulations to both directors, and if you spot Austin filmmaker Bob Ray over there, watch out: He's a lean, mean street-fighting man.

'Isn't SXSW Over?' Dept.:

Ha, not bloody likely. SXSW Film Festival producer Matt "The Shiv" Dentler sends word of a whole new way to get a piece of the action, filmwise, namely the just announced South by South Web Media Festival, which will combine the Film, Music, and Multimedia aspects of SXSW's current incarnation into a new event "dedicated to showcasing media on the world wide Web." (Translation: It's a Webfest.) Submissions are now being accepted, with a deadline of Monday, June 7. Submissions must have a running time no longer than five minutes; there are no set categories, and subs can be anything from "documentary shorts to animated shorts to music videos." All submission packages must include an application, cast/crew list, a VHS or DVD (NTSC only) copy of the work, and a $15 application fee, mailed to SXSWeb Media Festival, PO Box 4999, Austin, TX 78765. More info?

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Karen Skloss, Ellen Spiro, Mitko Panov, Karen Burnstein, Guggenheim Fellowships, UT Film, John Fiege, South by South Web Media Festival, SXSWeb, Troop 1500: Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, Texas Weeds, Smitten, Bebe, Cannes

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