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ݮƵ College announces inaugural Carl Foreman Award winner

ݮƵ Film senior wins inaugural Carl Foreman Award pictured with Eve Williams-Jones.
Matthew Peterson ’24, Film, and Eve Williams-Jones with award statuette after she announced he won the ݮƵ College Film Carl Foreman Award for Swan Song. The prestigious award, originally given by BAFTA for many years, has found a new home with ݮƵ’s top-ranked film program.

ݮƵ College announces inaugural Carl Foreman Award winner

ݮƵ Film senior wins inaugural Carl Foreman Award pictured with Eve Williams-Jones.
Matthew Peterson ’24, Film, and Eve Williams-Jones with award statuette after she announced he won the ݮƵ College Film Carl Foreman Award for Swan Song. The prestigious award, originally given by BAFTA for many years, has found a new home with ݮƵ’s top-ranked film program.

A film student and a father living with Alzheimer’s are at the center of Matthew Peterson’s Swan Song, winner of ݮƵ College of Art and Design’s inaugural ݮƵ College Film Carl Foreman Award. The award, to be given annually, recognizes a graduating senior majoring in Film or Creative Writing for outstanding achievement in screenwriting, directing, or producing. The student winner receives a monetary award of $5,000 as well as a Will Kane bronze statuette, inspired by the lead character in Foreman’s 1952 western High Noon. The Will Kane statuette was created by sculptor, illustrator, ݮƵ College faculty member, and alumnus.

“Having ݮƵ College of Art and Design chosen as the new home of the Carl Foreman Award, out of all of the other film schools in the country, is a testament to the exceptional talent of our students, the dedication of our instructors and their collaborative vision towards creative excellence,” said Dr. Larry R. Thompson, president of ݮƵ College of Art and Design. “We thank Eve and Michael Williams-Jones for their generosity in bringing this prestigious award to the College and extend our congratulations to Matthew Peterson for taking home the inaugural prize.”

Foreman’s widow, Evelyn “Eve” Williams-Jones, originally created the Carl Foreman Award in 1983 in memory of her late husband, a prolific screenwriter, director, and producer who was blacklisted by Hollywood and forced to leave the United States in 1951. Winners of the original award, created in conjunction with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), include Joe Wright, Amma Asante, Belinda Bauer, Asif Kapadia, and Steve McQueen.

When Eve and her husband Michael Williams-Jones decided to bring the Carl Foreman Award back to the United States, Foreman’s beloved homeland, they considered several film schools to continue a legacy of recognizing outstanding student work in the film industry before bringing it to Sarasota, a place they recognize as culturally vibrant and stunning.

“Initially we considered the fabulous film schools of Los Angeles, a natural choice,” said Michael Williams-Jones. “But as great and as legendary as they are, none of them felt quite right because Hollywood had once turned its back on Carl. Then, we met the truly remarkable and inspirational Dr. Larry R. Thompson and discovered ݮƵ College with its world-class film program, and it dawned on us … why not give the award its new home right in our own backyard?”

Swan Song, written and directed by Peterson, was selected from among 30 entries by a panel of seven jurors, including Patrick Alexander, ݮƵ College Film interim department head; Brad Battersby, ݮƵ College Film faculty; CJ Callins, ݮƵ College trustee and Film alumnus; Sheryl Haler, ݮƵ College Film faculty; Jonathan King, producer of Spotlight, Roma and Dreamgirls; Sylvia Whitman, ݮƵ College Creative Writing faculty; and Michael Williams-Jones, voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and BAFTA.

Swan Song is an immensely entertaining film that captivates the audience not through escapism, but by holding a mirror to the most fundamental complexities of the human experience,” said Alexander. “Rather than opt for a neatly packaged conclusion, the story culminates in a poignant, gut-wrenching climax that resonates long after the credits roll. The Carl Foreman Award was designed to recognize filmmakers like Peterson, capable of entertaining audiences while still provoking thought, introspection, and discourse around substantive issues.”

Peterson’s senior year at ݮƵ College was an ambitious one. He worked as a screenwriter, director, producer, editor, and digital image technician (DIT) on nearly a dozen films. Now that he’s graduated, Peterson will continue his filmmaking journey in Sarasota as an intern for videography company Storyvox before relocating to Los Angeles, where he plans to work in post-production and story development and eventually start a production company producing narrative and documentary content.

Eve Williams-Jones presented Peterson with the inaugural ݮƵ College Film Carl Foreman Award when more than 900 ݮƵ College students, faculty, patrons, and friends gathered at Sarasota’s historic Opera House for a special screening of the film program’s senior thesis projects, which included 12 senior films. The films are not yet made available to the public, so that students can apply to the festival circuit.

 In recognition of the close contest between the top two Carl Foreman award finalists, Film senior Wilderley Mauricette received Special Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Directing and Screenwriting for Curtain Call. That film tells the story of a young Black man torn between two powerful mentors as he must navigate between the criminal environment he was born into and his true passion for the arts.

Wilderley Mauricette ’24, Film, and Interim Film Department Head Patrick Alexander after Patrick announced his Special Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Directing and Screenwriting. 

“Having gone through the first selection process now, I like to think of the Carl Foreman Award as the North Star of our Film program,” said Alexander. “Carl Foreman’s movies provoke audiences to think, make us laugh, move us to tears, dare us to hope, but above all, they entertain us. As film educators, that’s exactly our guiding principle at ݮƵ College of Art and Design.”

“Eve and I were both deeply moved and impressed by the exceptionally high standard of this year’s ݮƵ Film senior productions,” said Michael Williams-Jones. “It is always thrilling to see such talent and imagination on the big screen, and it reaffirms our decision to grant ݮƵ College this award for at least the next 10 years. ݮƵ College has truly joined the top tier of the nation’s film schools.”

ݮƵ Carl Foreman

Carl Foreman was nominated for six Oscars over his career including for High Noon, The Guns of Navarone and The Bridge on the River Kwai for which he won Best Screenplay. After being blacklisted and forced to leave the United States, Foreman went to the U.K. and was given the rare honor of becoming Head of the U.K. Writers Guild and was awarded an OBE by the late Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to cinema. Foreman’s High Noon screenplay was widely interpreted as an allegory for Hollywood’s infamous blacklist. The film’s backstory serves as a reminder of the power of art to reflect social and political issues, while also honoring its audiences by being genuinely entertaining. Learn more about the Award and its history.

ݮƵ the ݮƵ College Film program

The ݮƵ College Film program produces the next generation of great filmmakers and visual storytellers. Students are immersed in all aspects of the film industry including directing, screenwriting, producing, cinematography, production design, editing, and sound design—all on the College’s two 8,400-square-foot soundstages and a 5,000-square-foot state-of-the-art post-production facility. Students can focus on narrative film or branded entertainment and crew on a minimum of 60 films during their four years in school. Students also have opportunities to work with industry leaders and connect with alumni who have gone on to work for Netflix, Disney, Comedy Central, MTV, NBC and ABC to name a few.

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