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Public Affairs


Award-winning student film puts 'Sailors First'

October 31, 2003

Photo of Ed, one of the "Sailors First" sailors, with his guide dog GenoaSFSU undergraduate Alison Victor's documentary "Sailors First" won a "Best of Festival" at this year's Berkeley Video and Film Festival, to be held this weekend.

"Sailors First" focuses on several San Francisco locals who have an unwavering passion for sailing. The boat's captain is a quadriplegic and his crew consists of paraplegics, a below-the-knee amputee, a blind man and a man with cerebral palsy. The 30-minute film documents their successes in the highly competitive and physically demanding arena of sailboat racing.

"By making the documentary, I wanted to challenge society's perception of what disability means. My hope was to show the sailors as sexy, able people who just get on with their lives like everyone else," says Victor, a senior in SFSU's Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) Department.

The idea for "Sailors First" was submitted initially for a contest in Professor John Hewitt's class, "The Television Documentary in the United States." After winning the proposal contest, Victor, her co-producer/cameraman Joerg Broszeit and several other BECA students embarked on producing the documentary. Hewitt always encourages students to submit their works to festivals.

"It deserved the award because the student crew who shot it spent hours and hours gathering the sequences and interviews, made an enormous effort to edit these, and told the story with cinematic grace. To win 'Best of Festival' is quite an achievement," Hewitt says.

Photo of Victor with her co-producer Joerg BroszeitAsked about whether she expected to win the award, Victor says, "It is such a bonus to win, to know that the skills and mentoring I received from my wonderful professors at SFSU got us to this point where total strangers voted and selected us as the best. It is a testimonial to SFSU, Dr. Hewitt and my fabulous SFSU crew!"

"Sailors First" was among 20 "Best of Festival" winners at this year's Berkeley Video and Film Festival, and has been submitted to a festival on disability films in Munich, Germany.

In the past, Victor has worked in audio post-production for Discovery Channel's science feature "Beyond 2000" and was part of the audio crew for the Bay Area independent film "Hum." Victor was also Bay Area producer of "Around The World In 80 Ways," a documentary about three disabled British adventurers who traveled Phineas Fogg's route around the globe in 80 types of transportation. The series has been picked up by British television. In addition to film and audio production, Victor moonlights as a guitarist in punk/pop bands, most recently in an all-girl AC/DC cover band, ACDshe.

Victor is working on a proposal to make a documentary about a crew of disabled sailors who go open-ocean racing in one of the most treacherous sailing races in the world, the Sydney to Hobart. Victor plans to continue making documentaries and pursuing a career in teaching, preferably in audio and video production.

The Berkeley Video and Film Festival was created to provide a channel for independent film and video makers to receive media attention, press reviews and screen presence. The festival screens original works, all which have been juried by a committee of professional media makers at theaters in Berkeley. "Sailors First" will not screen at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival this weekend, but will likely screen there in future years.

For more information, visit the Berkeley Video and Film Festival Web site.

-- Matt Itelson with Public Affairs Student Writer Audrey Tang





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Last modified October 31, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs