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IES film fest showcases study abroad

A US student who studied in Morocco has walked away with this year’s top prize at IES Abroad Study Abroad Film Festival in Chicago.

(L-R) Penn Harrison, Erik Patak, Film Critic Richard-Roeper and Philip Baites. Photo: IES Abroad.

A jury IES Abroad alumni, IES film studies faculty members, and film industry leaders, narrowed 96 entries down to three

The not-for-profit study abroad organisation hosted its fifth annual festival, where “Tangier to Casablanca” took top prize.

“Each year we are surprised, delighted, and inspired by the storytelling abilities of our students”

A jury of directors, editors, producers and screenwriters, who are IES Abroad alumni, film studies faculty from the organization’s international Centers, or film industry leaders, narrowed 96 entries down to three.

The overall winner Philip Baites produced a film featuring an original song which he said encapsulated his nine-month study abroad with IES Abroad Rabat in Morocco.

“Two months after I arrived in Morocco, my host mother received news that her father unexpectedly passed away in Canada,” Baites commented.

“Ultimately, this tragedy led to a bond to be formed between us, while also teaching me a valuable lesson. We are all on a journey. And it’s not the places or sites seen that have a lasting impact on us. It’s the people.”

A biochemical engineer from the University of Rochester, NY and a student from the University of Texas at Austin came runner-up.

Happiness is Only Real When Shared” by Erik Patak from the University of Rochester detailed his IES Abroad studies in Auckland, New Zealand, while “One Night in Barcelona by Penn Harrison, a Radio, Television, and Film major at the University of Texas at Austin was set in his host city Barcelona, Spain.

“Each year we are surprised, delighted, and inspired by the storytelling abilities of our students, but this year’s films were unlike any we have seen in the past,” says Amy Ruhter McMillan, senior associate vice president of Marketing and founder of the IES Abroad Study Abroad Film Festival.

“We were thrilled to host our fifth-annual event with these compelling student films– it was a truly inspiring event and we can’t wait to see what next year’s film festival competition brings.”

“I was blown away by the quality of these films,” said film critic, Richard Roeper.

“Everything from the storytelling techniques to the camerawork to the editing to the use of music–all of it was so impressive. Each student demonstrated a unique and original way of sharing their experiences abroad–and all of these stories were told with heart and honesty and originality.”

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