Bennington freshman wins short film contest


BENNINGTON -- Cole Christine has a passion for shooting videos that began when he 15. At that age, Christine and his 12-year-old sister filmed home videos with an inexpensive point-and-shoot still camera that had a video setting.

"The quality of the film was poor, but we loved doing it," Christine said.

10-minute video

Now 19 and a freshman at Bennington College using more high-tech equipment, Christine has been named the winner of the "Student Shorts Contest" at the Williamstown (Mass.) Film Festival for his short film, "Brian’s Life."

Christine’s film was chosen from 78 submissions in the first year of the student film category, according festival staff. The story, which unfolds in less than 10 minutes, tells the story of Brian -- a lonely, elderly man nearing the end of life.

After a doctor’s diagnosis of his aortic aneurysm, Brian makes one last journey to town to pass on advice to his only friend, Dan, a young and withdrawn store clerk who exhibits the same characteristics that made Brian a wretched recluse.

Fearing for Dan’s future happiness, Brian confesses his life’s failures and presents Dan with a chance to avoid a similar fate before the last scene.

The ending? Well, people will have to see it to find that out, Christine said.

Christine wrote the script and directed the film last September while attending a four-week class at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine. Filming took parts of two days and the cooperation of a number of other students in the program who helped with production, Christine said.

The film was shot primarily in a café and other parts of Camden, Maine, Christine said.

While at Bennington College, Christine said he saw a flyer for the film festival, and with some encouragement from his parents, submitted his film with great optimism.

"I go into everything thinking I can win ... if I don’t think I can, I will not do it," Christine said.

That confidence didn’t dwindle his excitement when he received a phone call from the festival’s executive director with the good news Wednesday evening.

"I was phoned last night at around 11 ... and as with most shocks it just doesn’t register the first second," Christine said. "Then it just turned into instant jubilation."

Christinesaidthe Williamstown festival is the second film festival he has submitted a film to, although it was his first response. The festival received 760 entries for all its categories, of which 40 entrants won screenings in the festival that takes place at the Images Cinema in Williamstown on the weekends from Oct. 23 to Nov. 1.

"Brian’s Life" will be screened during the first weekend of the festival in the "All-Shorts Slot" October 24 at 2:45 p.m., and Christine said he hopes to show it at the college sometime after that.

In its 11th year, the festival will also include work by Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson, documentaries about actor John Cazale and The Boys in the Band, and New England, Massachusetts and Berkshire premieres featuring Mary Tyler Moore, Joseph Fiennes, Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Al Pacino, Jamey Sheridan, Edward Albee, Spike Lee, Campbell Scott, Steve Buscemi and Anne Hathaway.

A number of celebrities from the film industry also serve on the festival’s advisory board including Streep, Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Sigourney Weaver, Joanne Woodward, Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner.

Tickets for the festival are availableat or by calling 413-458-9900.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at


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