On April 19th and 20th, the Broadcast Education Association began announcing the winners of this year’s awards ceremony via Zoom where some of our very own College of Communication Arts and Sciences faculty and students were awarded for their works in various media categories. The BEA’s annual convention and competition takes place in Las Vegas where educators, students and professionals can showcase their research and creative insights in long-form and short-form media productions.
In the Festival of Media Arts Documentary Feature Category, Carleen L. Hsu and John J. Valadez were granted an Award of Excellence for their documentary American Exile. American Exile follows two brothers, Valente and Manuel Valenzueala who volunteered and fought in the Vietnam War together almost 50 years ago. Now, both brothers are being deported despite their parents and themselves being born American citizens. This documentary highlights the brothers’ journey in learning about deported veterans and how they work to bring them home. Hsu is a professor of practice in the School of Journalism and is in the film studies program in the College of Arts and Letters. Valadez is a professor of practice in the Department of Media and Information and is additionally in the film studies program. Congratulations to these two Spartans for their extraordinary efforts in filmmaking.
In the Festival of Media Arts Mixed Pedagogical Category in the film and video competition, winners Geri Alumit Zeldes, Jason Howard, Evan Kutz and Faye Kollig earned an Award of Excellence for their film, Brenda’s Story: Undocumented to Documented. Additionally, the film was also awarded a Diversity & Inclusion Creative Award. The Diversity & Inclusion Creative Award recognizes creative works that diversify media content by telling stories that often don’t find a place in the media universe. “Only one award goes to one of 1,450 submissions that indicated a DEI angle,” said Zeldes. This film follows MSU student Brenda Pilar-Ayala and her journey in securing American citizenship while facing the numerous internal and external issues that complicate the citizenship process. When asked about the film, Zeldes expressed her admiration for Brenda and her unrelenting bravery. “I marvel at Brenda's courage to articulate personal and institutional pressures during a political climate that forces undocumented and DACA students to live in the shadows. Grateful and humbled are what I feel when I think of Brenda and her family." Zeldes is a tenured professor in the School of Journalism, as well as a Faculty Excellence Advocate for ComArtSci. Howard is a video producer for MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences department, producing various videos and documentary pieces for WKAR. Kutz is a ComArtSci alumni who specializes in documentary filmmaking, and Kollig is an undergraduate student in her senior year, majoring in media and information. Congratulations to this dedicated group for their excellent work.
Lastly, in the Festival of Media Arts Television Feature News Reporting Category in the Faculty News Competition, Best of Competition winner Mike Castellucci takes home this award for his news segment Mother’s Day. “I’m honored to receive the Best of Competition Award from BEA because it’s a simple piece where story matters, and they recognized that,” said Castellucci. This piece highlights 12-year-old Carlito and his aunt Natasha who are featured in a special Mother’s Day feature of Detroit’s Shinola magazine where Natasha comments on the strength and love that comes from being an unexpected parental guardian. “I found that Mother’s Day had special meaning for a Detroit poet last year. She never really considered herself as a mother, but it was certainly the case,” said Castellucci. “She had been raising her brother’s son. Her brother was killed in Detroit and her nephew’s mother was in jail on a drug charge. She’s really his aunt, but the title “Mother” very much applies.” Castellucci is a professor of practice and artist in residence in the School of Journalism. He is also widely recognized for utilizing his iPhone to create attentive films and news segments. Congratulations on earning an award for such thoughtful and endearing work.
According to the BEA Festival of Media Arts website, MSU ranked #17 in the Top Winning Overall Programs out of 99 institutions that were present at this year’s convention. This is a great accomplishment for the university, but more importantly it is also a recognition of our amazing faculty and students and their drive to make a difference. Congratulations once again to all the winners! Your recognition is well deserved.
By Casey Halas