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Santa Monica College Student Film Wins Top International Award

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By Lookout Staff

August 21, 2019 -- A Santa Monica College (SMC) student film that tackles mental illness took a top prize at at the 2019 Prague Independent Film Festival (PIFF) this month.

"HINGE," written and directed by SMC student Lisa Mayo and produced by SMC alum Lindsay Eberts, won the Best Student Film Award at the festival that took place from August 5 to 8.
SMC film HINGE poster

A total of 25 SMC students worked on the film, which was one of 14 prize winners at a festival that included entries from a dozen countries, school officials said.

"HINGE" tells the story of a mentally unstable man who "develops a fixation on his new neighbors -- a lesbian couple with an idyllic life -- when he stops taking his anti-psychotic medication."

The film was inspired by a true incident when a friend was attacked by a neighbor who suffered from a severe mental health condition, said Mayo, who was a registered nursing student.

“I witnessed firsthand the stigma that was attached to these patients by the very people that were supposed to be caring for them," she said.

"I also noticed the lack of resources for patients as well as a lack of support for their caretakers. I began to ask myself, ‘how can we help?’ but I didn’t know the answer.”

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Salvador Carrasco, who heads SMC's Film Production program, called the award "terrific," but said the real standout were all the students who worked on the production.

“Twenty-five SMC students from all walks of life brought their talent, passion, and impeccable work ethic to help materialize Lisa’s dream of telling a story that is very close to her heart,” Carrasco said.

All 18 of the short films produced by SMC’s Film Production program have received regional, national and international recognition, school officials said.

The Prague festival focused on Czech Republic premieres but also featured films from the U.S., the United Kingdom, China, Ireland, France, Finland, Russia, Bulgaria, France, Luxembourg and Germany.

“This prize is such an honor," said Eberts, "and proves that our film addresses a story that is not only timeless, but universal too.”

SMC offers an Associate of Science degree and Certificate of Achievement in Film Production. To learn more, visit or email

The film program—as well as the films that come out of it—is on YouTube as the “Santa Monica College Film Program” channel.

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