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VFX Artist Makes HBO Short Film Award Finals

Five films have made the cut for the 8th Annual HBO Short Film Award, with the filmmakers attending Film Life's 9th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in South Beach, Miami, July 13-17, for the final round of competition. Film Life Inc. and Time Warner, with HBO as founding sponsor, will present the festival.

One of the finalists is THE CATALYST, which was directed and written by vfx artist Marcus Stokes. The story follows a young man who seeks help from a mysterious person in the hopes of saving the life of his fiance. Stokes holds a Master's Degree in Architectural Design from the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked as an effects artist for George Lucas' company Industrial Light & Magic, where he helped create visual effects for the STAR WARS prequels. He also did special effects for THE MATRIX sequels, PETER PAN and I ROBOT and has worked on a variety of commercials and music videos. Stokes now works as a freelance director in the Los Angeles area.

The other finalists include IN TIME (co-directors: Maurice A. Dwyer/Adetoro Makinde, writer: Adetoro Makinde), THE MALE GROUPIE (director: Christopher Scott Cherot, writer: Morocco Omari), SEEKER (co-directors/writers: Adam Hutchings/Omeliho Nwanguma) and SHARDS (director: Jonathan Levine, co-writers: Jonathan David Boyce/Jonathan Levine).

First given out in 1998 to recognize the writing and directing talent of up-and-coming black filmmakers, the HBO Short Film Award has become a staple at the ABFF and a stepping-stone for new talent.

"Our partnership with the ABFF has helped open doors for new filmmakers, something we're very proud of," said Olivia Smashum, evp, affiliate marketing at HBO. "Combined efforts have helped develop an audience for new voices, created a place where filmmakers can connect with industry executives, and given us the opportunity to share our expertise in the creative process."

A panel of distinguished African American directors as well as HBO executives will judge the final entries during the festival, with the $20,000 grand prize presented by HBO at the ABFF Awards ceremony on closing night. The four runners-up will also receive $5,000 grants.

Home Box Office Inc. is the premium television-programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., providing two 24-hour premium television services, HBO and Cinemax. Together, both networks reach approximately 39 million subscribers in the U.S. via cable and satellite delivery. Home Box Office's international joint ventures bring HBO branded services to more than 50 countries around the globe.

The ABFF is a property of Film Life Inc., a New York-based film marketing and distribution company. Its mission is to spearhead the global distribution of quality Black films and be the leading American brand producing Black movies and related entertainment content.

Time Warner Inc. is the world's leading media and entertainment company whose businesses include filmed entertainment, interactive services, television networks, cable systems and publishing.

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Rick DeMott
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