April 9, 2018

It was video game fantasy and filmmaking glory at the 23rd Annual Student Showcase of Films at Lynn University on April 6. Hundreds of submissions poured in from Florida schools, and 250 were judged by 42 industry professionals from around the world. 2018 was unique as the SSOF celebrated three finalists for each category, Academy Awards style. 16 talented winners were ultimately presented trophies at the largest student film competition and award show in the state.

Characters like Mario, Yoshi and Pikachu created playful havoc during the video game-themed show. Presenters included legendary actor Burt Reynolds, rapper and reality TV star Vanilla Ice, singer and Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough, Hollywood actor Chris Hayes, local legends Louis and Loretta Morano (“Why would you buy from anyone else?”) Greg Rice (“Better call Hulett!”) and many more. Longtime host, musician and funnyman Frank Licari was in peak form entertaining an audience of over 800 students with their friends and families, state and county dignitaries, judges and VIPs.

Howie D. (Backstreet Boys), Chris Hayes (Actor), Michelle Hillery (SSOF Executive Producer) and Vanilla Ice

This new generation of Florida filmmakers was awarded $12,000 in cash and scholarships. Winners included Breanna Seaberg from Dreyfoos School of the Arts for the Burt Reynolds Scholarship, Marianna Kaimakliotis (also from Dreyfoos SOA) for the Sara Fuller Scholarship, and Gabriel A. Valbuena from Florida State University for the first place College Feature for his film, If. Matthew Manyak (Douglas Anderson School of the Arts) took first place High School Feature for After the Fall. Angel Soto from Palm Beach Atlantic University snagged top honors in Commercial PSA for A Boy’s Wish, Naskyya Hester from John I. Leonard High School grabbed the Mental Health Awareness award with her PSA, Depression, and the inaugural Suzanne L. Niedland Documentary Award went to Maddie Glas of Howard W. Blake School of the Arts for her touching documentary, Someday. For a complete list of winners, visit


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