Faculty member Cristina M. Pippa‘s short film, Amelia, has won “The Golden Gateway for the Best Short Film, 9+ Years” award at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.
The film follows Eleanor Berg, a 13-year-old in San Clemente, California in July of 1937, confined to her room on a summer day because she was recently stricken with polio. Eleanor hears Amelia Earhart’s distress calls on her shortwave radio after her disappearance over the Pacific. Hearing the famous aviator on her shortwave motivates Eleanor to finish the building the radio kit her grandfather gave her. Although she feels isolated, technology allows her to connect with the world.
Pippa co-directed the film with Minneapolis filmmaker Maribeth Romslo, whom also help Pippa with her first short film, Under One Roof, in 2015.
Says Pippa, “Working together on another project, Maribeth and I came across the true story of a girl who heard Amelia Earhart’s distress calls on her shortwave radio in July, 1937. After much research into radio operation (both shortwave and amateur ham radio), we created the character of Eleanor and found an incredibly talented young actress named Noa Beckham-Chasnoff to play her.”
She wrote the script for Amelia on a train ride from Minneapolis to Chicago for a film screening and began pre-production just one month later.
It was crucial to Pippa that the world of Amelia felt authentic. “We spent time with ham radio operators and at radio museums, as well as with a woman who makes prosthetics for and experts on antiques from the 1930s. In the end, I think we really transport the viewer to another time and place and show the potential for a girl who may feel powerless to take action.”
Pippa submitted Amelia to multiple festivals.
She explains, “We submitted the film to the Toronto International Film Festival Kids International Film Festival and it screened there this year. It’s because of that premiere that it was selected for the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, the Roshd International Film Festival in Iran, and the InScience International Science Film Festival in the Netherlands. Those festivals asked us to submit Amelia, which made the submission process that much more encouraging.”
Amelia has also received attention for featuring a young girl participating in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).
Pippa elaborates, “Amelia has also screened at the New York Hall of Science as part of a Girls in STEM night and at the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Women in Science and Engineering event. I reached out to programs managers at those museums to try to find more young audiences.”
For more information on Amelia (and to watch the short film for free), viewers can visit www.sparktheseries.com/amelia.