Event Coverage


Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2011

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Ever since George Lucas introduced us to the Star Wars universe in 1976, fans have been paying homage to his creation with their own creations.  Since the year 2002, Atom Films, one of the internet’s best sources for short-form comedies, dramas and animations, in conjunction with Lucasfilm Ltd. has been the host of The Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards.  Created to honor the best of the Star Wars-themed spoofs and documentaries submitted by Star Wars fans everywhere, prizes have ranged from those of monetary value to trophies to official recognition by George Lucas at large conventions like Comic Con and at the official website, starwars.com.

            The guidelines require fan film makers to submit a short-form fan-made movie, preferably under 5 minutes in length, but many submissions are quite a bit longer.  The movie can be a parody of the universe (including the movies, books and comic books), a fan experience documentary or a fan fiction movie, expanding upon the Star Wars universe.  The submission may include the use of Star Wars officially licensed items, including the books, action figures, the Star Wars Galaxies online game and more.  Anyone in any country can submit a film for review. 

            Of course, there are a few things prohibited in this contest.  For one thing, unauthorized use of copyrighted material is not allowed.  You can’t use of any members of a guild actor, performer, crewmember, etc. to create your film.  The submissions must also be fairly clean - no nudity, excessive swearing, explicit themes or graphic violence.

            The winners of Atom Films’ Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2011 were announced on July 21, 2011 at the San Diego Comic-Con 2011.  This year’s award winners are:

George Lucas Selects Award: Unlimited Power by Eliot Sirota - a 3D computer animated commercial for a Power Droid featuring a Star Wars power droid, otherwise known as a Gonk, dancing and performing acrobatic leaps while the announcer discusses the virtues of owning a power droid. 

Audience Choice and Best Fan Fiction Award: A Light in the Darkness by Fed Wetherbee - an elaborate live action film.  In a small mining town once protected by Jedi and now held captive by the Empire, a small group of rebels resurrect the idea of the Jedi in hopes of grabbing the Rebel Alliance’s attention and perhaps saving their town.

Best Animated Feature Award: Bounty Hunter II: Pit of Carkoon by Jim Mehsling - an animated behind the scenes look at the Jabba's Palace rescue scene, featuring a fully equipped Boba Fett.

Best Sequel Award: The Unconscious Sith Strikes Back by Adam White - the sequel to the George Lucas Selects 2010 Award winner, this mix of comic book and live action features a young boy’s latest dream about being a Sith at war with the Jedi.  They have added something new this time around - LEGO Star Wars characters.

Spirit of Fandom Award: The Tentacle Trap by James Austin - a LEGO Star Wars stop motion animated short film featuring Clone Pirates on a treasure hunt, betrayed by the plant they bring along.

Best Comedy Award: Solo Forever by Trey Albright - a Star Wars toyaholic must get rid of his Star Wars toy collection or lose his girlfriend forever.

Best Acting Award: Star Wars: Hunter by Sash Nixon - a live action film surrounding the character of Rek Daggard, a man with a bounty on his head who joins a group of bounty hunters on a mission to kill Jedi in hopes that the Empire will wipe out his criminal record.

My opinion of the winners: While I found the Unlimited Power commercial to be funny, I’m not quite sure it was deserving of top honors this year.  It certainly required a lot of work to create and a good knowledge and manipulation of 3D filming technology, but was that the best fan film out there?

The Audience Choice and Best Fan Fiction Awards were well chosen.  I enjoyed the storyline of A Light in the Darkness.  The acting was very good as well as the cinematography.  It had a real movie feel to it and I cannot wait until the sequel is released.  For more about this film, visit http://www.alightinthedarknessfilm.com/.           

The Tentacle Trap was pretty darn funny.  It was created in the spirit of the LEGO Star Wars video games, complete with Sims-like talking and humor.  I loved that the plants we usually shoot up in the game to earn credits are actually fighting back in this film, setting up the pirates and taking their booty.

The Best Comedy choice, Solo Forever, did have some comedic moments.  I even laughed out loud at the Seven-esque scene when the girlfriend calls the main character up and tells him he must destroy what’s in the box.  “What’s in the box?!…NOOOOO!”  However, I think this may not have been the best comedy submitted this year.

I enjoyed the sequel to The Unconscious Sith and laughed at the addition of LEGO characters to the comic book/live action film.  I can’t wait to see the next sequel.

I also laughed quite a bit at Bounty Hunter II: Pit of Carkoon - this might have been the better choice for Best Comedy.  I especially enjoyed Boba Fett showing off all of his cool gadgets to the other skiff riders.

As for the Best Acting Award…I disagree with the selection entirely.  Star Wars: Hunter was a poor choice with stilted acting and poor effects.

            Once again, the Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge has produced quite an imaginative and enjoyable stock of fan films dedicated to the Star Wars Universe.  You can check out the winners at http://www.atom.com/channel/channel_star_wars.  To check out the 2010 finalists, visit http://www.atom.com/channel/channel_star_wars#2010%20Finalists.  Who will be the next Star Wars fan film award winner?  I’m sure folks are already starting on their submissions for the Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2012.  Until then, MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!


For more about Star Wars fan films, check out these articles:

Star Wars Fan Films: Imagination Run Wild

Star Wars Fan Film Awards 2006

Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2008

Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2009

Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge 2010


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