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Act 1 Presents the DeSales University Film Festival

by Tom McNamara ’92, M’21 Mar 15, 2024
DUFF 24 News Article

The division of performing arts presents the DeSales University Film Festival, premiering on Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. in person at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts and with the films streaming online.

An exciting showcase of world premiere films, DUFF features the emerging voices of film directors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers, designers, editors, animators, and actors in the DeSales TV/film department. The event also includes photo highlight segments, showcasing beautiful and compelling art by the talented photographers of the TV/film department and the entire University.

A part of the festival is the second annual high school competition where filmmakers from local schools submitted entries. The DUFF committee and department faculty will review submissions and select a winner. The top three finalists are invited to attend the festival, where the winning film will be announced and shown. The two runners up will be recognized.  

Films in the festival will compete for Best Overall Film or the DUFFY, as well as Best Screenwriting, Best Cinematography, Best Directing, Best Editing and Sound Design, and the award for Audience Choice.

“Our students’ films get better and more ambitious every year, so DUFF works hard to reflect and foster that vision. We're so deeply grateful to have an expanded panel of adjudicators this year, with so many highly respected professionals representing such a wide range of the film and television industry.”

 Michael Wagner, associate professor of TV/film, and Mary McDermott, assistant professor of TV/film

Wagner and McDermott are the faculty advisors to the festival. Members of the DUFF adjudication panel include Julia Urich, Ben Wong and Rich Hamilton, and Sebastian Nieves. Urich is a producer and co-owner of FireRock Productions in Allentown, Pa. The company is a 14-time Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award winner, and Ocean Spray, Electronic Arts, and Crayola are among their many corporate and nonprofit clients.

Sound designers and mixers Wong and Hamilton founded Dragonfly Audio Post, a post-production sound studio in Philadelphia. Wong has mixed and designed documentaries including “The Minimalists: Less is Now” on Netflix and “Macho: The Hector Comacho Story” on Showtime. Hamilton has supervised feature films including the cult hit conspiracy horror film “The Pizzagate Massacre,” the award-winning horror/comedy film “Home Body,” and the drama/thriller “Periphery,” starring Tessa Thompson and Jesse Garcia. Hamilton is also a film composer.

Nieves is a freelance cinematographer who has shot films for brands such as Audi, LG, Amika, Footlocker, PUMA, AMEX, Players Tribune, and Shangri-La Hotels. He has also filmed the Bleacher Report web series “Untold Stories.”

Judging the DUFF awards is Paul Harrill, an independent writer, director, and film educator. He is the writer and director of the short “Quick Feet, Soft Hands,” and the films “Something, Anything,” and “Light from Light,” which was nominated for the NEXT Innovator Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

For the DUFF photo competition, commercial photographer Stevie Chris will be the adjudicator. Chris’s photography is in the areas of lifestyle, sports and fitness, and branding as well as editorial photography for both local and national magazines. His clients have included Under Armour, “Bon Appétite,” and the city of Philadelphia.

Considered the leading film school in the Lehigh Valley, the DeSales TV/film department boasts more than two dozen Emmy Award winners from among its students and alumni. The 24th annual festival is the perfect time to show where our successful alumni began their careers, and also serves as a launch pad for student filmmakers as they begin their careers in the film, television, and entertainment industries.

The DeSales University Film Festival will be on Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. The live showing will take place on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets for the live performance are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. 

DUFF films stream on March 23, 2024. Please note that, due to careful timing, this streaming event will only be available starting promptly at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the streamed film screening are $15 per viewer.

Students who attend DeSales or any other Lehigh Valley college or university can purchase tickets for $8. Group discounts are available. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Labuda Center Box Office at 610-282-3192 or visiting

Learn more about this year's DUFF