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a/perture is pleased to present selected student short films from the Ambrosia Film Festival at
UNCSA School of Filmmaking on screen before selected features.





n/ow playing – May 2024


Ferdinand directed by Lucien Anderson



Lucien Anderson is a writer/director from Washington, DC. A love for Looney Tunes, Hollywood melodrama and M Night Shyamalan motivates him to try and make people smile, cry, or whisper “I friggin’ knew it” to their partner. Aside from film, Lucien loves watching the Washington Wizards and going to Kermit’s Hot Dog House. He is one half of the DC-based writer/director duo known as “District Pictures”. 



previous 2023-2024 Ambrosia Festival winners

Orange Vs. Grape directed by Brady Malone



Brady Malone is filmmaker from Virginia Beach currently studying at UNCSA. He is pushing the envelope of filmmaking, exploring fun, bizarre, and out-there ideas in his work. His favorite films are Rocky, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and La La Land.



Dirty Laundry directed by Benjamin DiGiacobbe

Benjamin DiGiacobbe is a first-year filmmaker at UNCSA with a focused interest in film editing. His passion for editing began at an early age where he first found inspiration from the likes of Tim Burton. Benjamin has developed a distinctive style characterized by its embrace of the unconventional and the eccentric. He enjoys exploring narratives that blend humor with darker undertones, pushing creative boundaries and challenging conventional norms. A few of his favorite films are Coraline, Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream, and the Austin Powers trilogy.




Moth to a Flame directed by Mackenzie Marstellar

Mackenzie Marsteller is a filmmaker from the sandy beaches of Destin, Florida who is now a junior at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. With her sights set on Directing, she aspires to tell stories that capture authentic narratives and is especially interested in themes such as grief, nostalgia, and human connection. Her love for other art forms namely photography, interior design, and painting influence her creative process. Her favorite films include Manchester by the Sea (2016), Little Women (2019), and Past Lives (2023).




Alison directed by Thomas Comick

My name is Thomas Comick. I have had a love for both watching and creating movies since I was very young. I am a first-year film student at UNCSA with a focus in Directing, writing, and editing. I am interested in exploring all different styles of stories and genres. Coming from a multicultural background I have a unique lens through which I see the world. One thing that fascinates me about cinema is its ability to make us feel, and its ability to alter how we think about the world around us. I hope my films will become part of the 21st century zeitgeist. Some films that inspire me are: Midnight in Paris, Lady Bird, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Big Lebowski. I am very inspired by the Coen Brothers ability to make great films in a variety of genres and Wes Anderson’s beautiful and unique style. 


previous Ambrosia Festival winners from 2022-2023

Annette directed by Ben Carter

Ben Carter is a recent graduate in directing from UNCSA . In addition to filmmaking, he is also an avid photographer and video artist. His favorite “films” are The Other Side of the Wind and Koyaanisqatsi, while his favorite “movies” are Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Cat in the Hat (2003).







(Happy Independence Day) directed by Bella Howard

Bella is from Charlotte, NC and her passion is in directing action movies starring women. She grew up watching action movies but rarely saw women playing characters that could do everything she wanted them to do. She wants to make a space for women in action and change the industry for how women are treated. Her favorite films are John Wick, Deadpool, and Kill Bill.





The Monkey at the Inn directed by Declan Duggan

Declan is from Wimberley, Texas, and is pursuing Directing at UNCSA, making more short films than he can count! He is especially interested in stories about loneliness, will, and redemption. Some of his favorite films are Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Primal Fear (1996), and The Social Network (2011). Photo by Rugile Zemaityte.






Virtual Date directed by Robbie Cook

I’m Robbie Cook and whenever I create a film, I always like to explore strong visuals, strange stories, and new editing techniques while also heightening the stakes of normal situations. My favorite director of all time is John Carpenter and some of my favorite films include They Live, Memento, and The Truman Show.






Last Looks directed by Mary Louise Renegar 

Mary Louise is a third year directing student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts; she is focused on developing a style that celebrates human gentleness and intimacy as well as love in all of its forms. Her favorite movie is Edward Scissorhands (1990)! Some follow ups are Swallow (2019), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), and Paterson (2016).  photo by Kenzie Arters





a/perture presented selected short films curated by the Out at the Movies Film Festival on screen before selected features during Summer 2022.

One More Please directed by Aleksei Borovikov precedes several film screenings in September

Aleksei Borovikov is a Chicago-based independent filmmaker. He began his career by working on regional and national television in Russia. Aleksei graduated from Moscow Film School and Columbia College Chicago, where he received an MFA degree in Cinema Directing. For his work, Aleksei draws inspiration from films by European directors, including Francois Ozon’s 5×2, Stephen Daldry’s The Hours, and Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley.




previously screened

Graduation directed by Zhongyu (Robin) Wang 

Zhongyu (Robin) Wang is an award-winning director and screenwriter. He graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English (Highest Distinction) and is now an MFA candidate in
Film & Television Production at the University of Southern California.

As a director and producer, Robin brought his works to over sixty international film festivals worldwide. Among them, Mother in the Mist, the USC Thesis film he produced in 2021, won the 27th DGA Student Film Awards for Best Women Filmmaker, and it premiered at the 20th San Diego International Film Festival.


The Man of My Dreams directed by Tristan Scott-Behrends

Tristan has worked as an actor, producer, writer, director, wardrobe stylist and waitress, appearing in feature films such as Electric Slide & Pester. His film Curtain Down, which he wrote and starred in, was a great success on the film festival circuit. Curtain Down made it’s online premiere on Paper Magazine. His music video directorial debut premiered on Dazed, February 2018. Only Trumpets, his first short film made its world premiere at the 2018 Outfest Film Festival where it was selected at “Best of the Fest” His work explores themes of identity, gender, isolation and sexuality. He is currently developing the script for a feature film version of Only Trumpets. All That Jazz, Pink Narcissus, Female Trouble, Harold and Maude, Funny Girl, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Embrace directed by Tesha Merkel 

Tesha is a fresh-out-of-school animator from the Midwest, hoping to grow as an artist and creator while sharing her first film, Embrace. While she’s interested in a wide range of visual media, her preferences lie in using illustration, video game design, and animation development for telling stories. There are countless amazing films that have influenced her work, from short films like In a Heartbeat and Foreign Bodies to feature films such as Summer Wars and Into the Spider-Verse. As she grows her skills in animation, she hopes to bring some of the same charming visual and storytelling techniques to her own work.




previously screened Ambrosia shorts from 2021-2022 academic year

Close-Up directed by Nathan Shanahan

Nathan Shanahan is a third-year directing student from Durham, North Carolina. His influences include Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, and Kanye West. His favorite films include the first West Side Story, Taxi Driver, and High School Musical 2.






Math-Bot directed by John Caudill 


John is a third year filmmaking student from Laurinburg, NC, who is interested in directing and screenwriting. Some of his influences include Yorgos Lanthimos, David Lynch, Wes Anderson, and The Coen Brothers. Some of his favorite films include La Haine, The Graduate, and Spongebob Squarepants.





Stalled directed by Jacqueline Smith 

Jacqueline Smith was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. She is a first-year filmmaker interested in directing, producing, and screenwriting. Her influences include Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, and Dennis Villeneuve. Some of her favorite films are City of God, The Apartment, and Memento.





The Lady in the Yellow Raincoat directed by Frieda Prosono 


Frieda is a third year filmmaking student with a concentration in directing. Some of her favorite movies include Akira, Harold and Maude, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Lovely Bones, and Spider-man into the Spider-Verse.








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