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A dramatic story of homelessness wins Best Picture in Renton FilmFrenzy
A film student’s picture won three Renton FilmFrenzy II Curvee awards Tuesday night, including best actor for the work of an elementary-aged student.
“I was just hoping that our film would get shown,” said Chris Chacon, a Seattle Film Institute student.
His film, “Ayuda Pequeno,” meaning “a little help,” broke the festival’s pattern of ironic and slapstick comedies with a drama.
“It’s the way I see life, a more serious tone,” Chacon explained.
His film tells the story of a poor boy who meets a struggling homeless man.
“It was shot beautifully, and it had solid acting,” said Alex Pietsch, a city administrator and one of the three judges. “It was the most complete film of all the ones we saw.”
Judges were hoping to see a higher diversity in genre this year, more than just silliness, he said.
They used a numerical rating criteria, including film quality, pacing, story and graphics, to decide the division winners.
The ratings were considered for the special awards, but they also had a subjective discussion.
About 250 people attended the gala Tuesday night at the IKEA Performing Arts Center to hear the winners announced and to see 10 of the 17 films entered in the 50-hour competition this year.
“I think the caliber of the gala was higher. The energy was incredibly high,” said Suzanne Dale Estey, a key event organizer.
Community leaders, announced by Evening Magazine’s Jim Dever, took turns presenting the awards.
This is the second year the Renton Community Marketing Campaign organized the event, hoping to draw people to Renton while supporting the arts.
The student judging division encouraged high school and middle school students to experiment with film. The youth ecstatically received awards and prize money.
“This is a great opportunity,” said Chacon, who won first place in the open division and best picture. “When you win the awards, it makes you see the future a little bit more.”
Chacon also accepted the best actor award for Jose Mario, who played the boy.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Chacon was used to seeing homelessness and ethnic diversity, he said.
Moving to a conservative town in Iowa, he forgot the city life. When he came to Seattle for film school, he was struck by the city’s homelessness, poverty and diversity.
With a poor Hispanic child helping a homeless man, these ideas became the basis of the film.
The black and white film was melancholy, and played on the heavy rain and dark skies that dominated the competition weekend.
Though the rains were still too heavy for filming, and the crew was forced inside during downpours, Chacon said. “It was guerrilla style.”