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Bruins Shine at Telluride


By Jesy Odio '15

Published Aug 29, 2014 8:00 AM

UCLA is always well represented in the annual Colorado showcase of new films. This year was no exception.


Photograph courtesy Mark Columbus

UCLA was once again front and center at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival. Mark Columbus, a fourth-year directing graduate student in the School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) premiered his short narrative drama, Guests, at the 41st edition of the festival, which ran from August 29 through September 1 in the Rocky Mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. Guests was one of six films featured in the Student Prints portion, which was curated and introduced by UCLA alumnus Gregory Nava ’71.

A specific work of another Bruin, Francis Ford Coppola MFA’67, received this year’s Silver Medallion Award. His seminal Apocalypse Now is the first film ever so recognized, as the award usually honors an artist’s “significant contribution to the world of cinema.” After a screening of Apocalypse, Coppola and the film’s co-producer Fred Roos ’56 were among those appearing on a panel to discuss it.

In addition, a special Saturday night event honored the work of Carroll Ballard ’63. “Carroll Ballard: Seems Like Only Yesterday” included a screening of four of Ballard’s short films and a conversation between Ballard and Alexander Payne MFA ’90.

Columbus’ Guests, a melancholy 12-minute tale of a young boy who is forced to grow up, was one of eight student productions created in a TFT class taught by visiting professor and actor James Franco last year. Adapted from Robert Boswell’s collection of stories in The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, the narratives were later merged into a feature-length film of the same name.

Columbus was already no stranger to Telluride or the festival circuit. Last year, he attended Telluride as a TFT FilmLab fellow and remembers it as “one of the greatest experiences because we had all-access passes to everything.” The access is extended every year to 10 select TFT graduate students as part of the FilmLab partnership between TFT and the festival. FilmLab fellows learn from prominent filmmakers; enjoy exclusive sessions with world-renowned writers, producers and industry leaders; and experience the festival as VIPs would.

One of Columbus’s previous works, a documentary short titled Battle of the Jazz Guitarist has been shown at more than 50 festivals around the world and was nominated for a Student Academy Award. His next project is a nine-month web series development project as part of Film Independent’s Project Involve.

This story is based on an article in the UCLA Newsroom. To view the original full-length article, visit