Randall Dottin, recent Columbia University alumnus (SOA'03), won the Student Academy Award gold medal in the narrative category for his film A-Alike, making it the seventh year in the last eight that a film from Columbia seized a gold medal.
The Student Academy Awards is a national competition conducted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy Foundation. Each year, more than 300 college and university film students from across the United States compete for awards and cash grants, with films being judged in four categories: animation, documentary, narrative and alternative.
A-Alike, which Dottin wrote and directed, depicts two brothers from opposite ends of the social spectrum who struggle to reconcile their estrangement in order to save their family and themselves.
Less than 12 hours after receiving the award, Dottin spoke about how his experience at Columbia University's School of the Arts helped him to "hone his craft."
"Words can't explain this incredible journey … Columbia taught me the importance of developing my craft and my discipline as an artist," Dottin said. "All of the faculty were instrumental in my development, and encouraged me to try harder and to go beyond my limitations as a filmmaker."
His film prevailed over more than 200 entries from across the country in the highly competitive narrative category at the 31 st annual Student Academy Awards, held Sunday night.
"We are proud of Columbia's record, which indicates pretty clearly how strong our filmmaking program has become," Dan Kleinman, chairman of the School of the Arts Film Division, said, adding, "Congratulations to Randy, who is having a wonderful year and deserves all this recognition."
A-Alike has already garnered other accolades, in addition to the Student Academy Award. In October 2003, the Director's Guild of America (DGA) honored Dottin, naming him Best African-American Student Filmmaker for A-Alike. He also took second place in the National Board of Review for Motion Pictures Award for the short film and was a finalist in the HBO Short Film Competition at the American Black Film Festival. HBO bought the rights to A-Alike for two years, and it has already aired on HBO and Cinemax. In addition, A-Alike screened at the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival and the Roxbury Film Festival, where it was named best short film.
After being honored by the DGA, Dottin was recruited by Fox Searchlab for a program for emerging directors. As a part of the program, Fox Searchlight Films has a first-look deal for his short film, which will be shot in New York and Boston .
Dottin also is the director of the project that won Columbia's first $100,000 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Grant. That film, Indelible, depicts an African-American female scientist who is in a race to find a cure for the deadly disease that took the life of her husband and threatens her teen-age son. In her quest for a cure, the scientist must balance between time in the lab and those once-in-a-lifetime moments with her son. Indelible, whose screenwriter is Mikki del Monico (SOA'03), is expected to shoot in Harlem in 2005. Their producing partner is Melanie Williams Oram (SOA '04).
Past Columbia University winners of the Student Academy Award gold medal:
- 2003 -- La Milpa (Patricia Riggen), with second place to Jesus Henry Christ (Dennis Lee)
- 2002 -- For Our Man (Kazuo Ohno)
- 2001 -- Zen and the Art of Landscaping (David Kartch)
- 2000 -- One Day Crossing (Joan Stein)
- 1998 -- Tree Shade (Lisa Collins)
- 1997 -- Christmas in New York (Mark Millhone)