Southeast’s Short Film Showcased in Iconic Times Square – NYC International Film Festival

by News Bureau on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 23, 2011 – Southeast Missouri State University’s first and only 3-D animated short film, “Death to the Different,” directed by award-winner Peter Chanthanakone, assistant professor of industrial and engineering technology, was presented at the New York City International Film Festival on Aug. 22. The film was played on an outdoor videotron in the middle of busy Times Square, between Broadway and 7th, in front of the thousands of tourists and film buffs. It was selected from more than 2,600 films. Recently, the film was accepted into the International Short Film Festival Detmold in Germany, the 2011 International LUMS Film Festival in Pakistan and the Seventh China International Cartoon and Animation Film Festival in Hangzhou, China. The film is based on “The Last Dragon,” a story by David Hayes. Chanthanakone said he chose Hayes’ story for his film, because it provides a good, heart-felt storyline that teaches people about the greater good as well as an idea of differences in people. He and a team of students began creating the film in January 2009 after receiving financial support from Southeast’s Grants and Research Funding. He said the students were invaluable to the process. “The film could not have been completed without the help of some very dedicated and talented students. I chose to do this film for them, because the experience they received will help them indefinitely,” Chanthanakone said. “They would often put in 10- or 20-hour weeks, so it was a long but beneficial process.” The students involved in the production of “Death to the Different” were technology management majors with the computer and multimedia graphics option in the Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology. They include Michael Freezeland, Kirk Lohmann and Chris Northcutt. Tyler Paneitz, who graduated from Southeast with an associate’s degree, also assisted in the film’s production. “Working on a 3-D film has been really amazing. There’s so much that goes into the process, and there’s so much to think about every step of the way. I’ve really enjoyed the experience, and I’m thankful that I’ve had the chance to do this,” Freezeland said of his participation in the production of “Death to the Different.” Although the film lasts under nine minutes, it packs within its story several complex themes, including a coming-of-age situation. Gabriel, the protagonist of the story, must overcome a difficult task, as each son in the family has to do, when he reaches the age of 14 to enter manhood. Gabriel’s father, Connor, tells him his task is to slay the ferocious neighborhood dragon, but Gabriel might not be ready to become a man. The plot has issues of overcoming diversity and the gap between the youth and the elderly brought on by technology and the lasting effects of a leader’s decisions. Southeast student Osby Tomlin provided the voice of the dragon; Hayes played the voice of Commor; Olivia Nguyen, daughter of Peter Nguyen, director of the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum, and Jacob Dudley, son of Southeast’s Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology faculty member John Dudley, are the voices of the story’s hero, Gabriel. As a short film director specializing in 3-D animated films, Chanthanakone has won several awards from various film festivals, including Top Emerging Artist in 2004 and Best Animation Short Film in 2006. He received his bachelor of fine arts degree with a major in fine arts/multimedia from McMaster University and his master of fine arts degree with a specialization in 3-D animation from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He taught at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., and Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., before coming to Southeast in Aug. 2008. For more information about “Death to the Different,” visit Chanthanakone’s website, www.pixade.com.