February 19, 2015

Four graduate students in UCF’s M.F.A. film program will premiere films at upcoming festivals. Zachary Beckler, Maria Emilia Garcia, and Max Rousseau will screen their respective feature-length thesis films Interior, La Descorrupción, Pembroke Circle at the Starlite Film Festival. John Goshorn’s The Happiest Place on Earth will debut at Cinequest 25 in San Jose, CA.

In addition, screenwriter and UCF alum Justin Lader will headline the Starlite festival’s opening night. Lader will present his 2014 Sundance Film Festival sensation, The One I Love.

“It’s always gratifying to see our students succeed, but the special aspect of this group’s accolades is that they made very different films, and, yet, they are all being recognized as exceptional creative works. That speaks to the diversity of our program and its accommodation of talent in any form," explains Lisa Peterson, Associate Instructor of Film in UCF’s School of Visual Arts & Design.

Garcia and Rousseau, who directed five short films during his undergraduate studies at UCF, graduated from the M.F.A. Film program in 2013; Beckler graduated in the Spring of 2014 and, like Rousseau, became a graduate teaching associate. Goshorn graduated in 2012. Garcia is currently teaching at two universities in Ecuador: Universidad Católica Santiago de Guayaquil and Universidad de las Artes.

Speaking for the group, Beckler says, “We are thrilled to have our films screened at the StarLite Film Festival, all of which were produced on micro-budgets during our times at UCF. We could not have made these films without the resources offered by the film program, the guidance we received from the faculty, and the relationships we gained along the way.”

Goshorn adds, “The Making of The Happiest Place on Earth was facilitated by the academic context of the MFA program, which not only provided access to crew and some equipment and facilities, but also served as a laboratory environment in which to test all the thinking I have ever done about filmmaking. That laboratory environment is one of the only contexts in cinema that allows risks to be taken simply for the potential learning that such risk-taking might facilitate.”

For more information about each film: