San Diego State University's School of Theatre, Television, and Film is celebrating after one of its students won the U.S. Jury prize, a short film award, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Graduate student Destin Daniel Cretton won the award for his film "Short Term 12."
"I just got to spend the last ten days with the best film makers in the world. The spirit of Sundance isn't full of a sense of competition. I didn't experience any egos," Cretton said Sunday. "One of the best experiences of my life was hanging out with some of the most creative directors."
The film places viewers within the walls of a real facility and lets them feel what it's like to live and work in a place where hope is often difficult to find.
"I wrote the story based on a residential at risk teenager's facility in San Diego. This short film basically follows the kids and supervisors on one particular day."
Cretton, who spent several years as a childcare worker at a residential facility for abused and neglected children, created "Short Term 12" as a way to deal with his own questions about that experience.
Cretton is expected to graduate from SDSU in May 2009 with a Master of Arts degree in Television, Film and New Media Production.
"The next step is to make a feature film," Cretton said. "Just getting into Sundance opened up so many opportunities and now that we have this award there are a lot of doors that wouldn't have been opened. I am now writing a feature film."
This year the Sundance Film Festival's Short Film Program was comprised of a record 96 short films from 5,632 submissions, from U.S. and international filmmakers.
Cretton said that although this has been an amazing experience, he's ready to come home.
"It's freezing here, it's really freezing," he said. "I am looking forward to going back to Ocean Beach and taking my boots off and walking in the sand."