Magazine Feature / People

DU student film accepted into Starz Film Festival

When Ryan Carroll’s great-grandmother passed away in spring of 2009, he struggled to finish an assignment in his Found Footage Filmmaking class.

His professor, Tony Gault, suggested he pour his emotions into making a new film.

And, it seems, Carroll’s emotional investment paid off. The film, Beneath This Smile, was accepted into the 32nd Starz Denver Film Festival, which begins Nov. 12.

“I was blown away,” says Carroll, a third-year graduate student in mass communications with an emphasis in video/film production. “I am so honored that they enjoyed it.”

The six-minute, 37-second experimental film is a mixture of old film clips set to a separate audio track. The images and sound portray Carroll’s emotional state at the time.

“It sounds like a person in crisis,” says Gault, associate professor of film at DU. “He worked very hard on the sound.”

Gault says he encourages all his students to use life experience within their creative projects.

Carroll says the film was very personal to him. Looking back, he thinks the feelings of grief he experienced apply to anybody.

“I hope people can connect in that way,” he says. “We often appear to be happy but are hurt on the inside.”

The bulk of the film features short clips from old movies, but there are three short clips of home video of Dorothy Mae Ward, Carroll’s late great-grandmother. Carroll was close to her and was upset he could not return to Indiana for her funeral.

“I was angry, but soon I realized that being part of the funeral wasn’t important, just being a part of her life,” he says.

At the end of the film, Carroll shows Ward holding a baby and the feeling of the film turns from sorrow to peace. Carroll says he realized his 94-year-old great grandmother was in a better place.

He hopes his family will see the film’s debut at the festival Nov. 12–22. For more information,


Comments are closed.