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UMD Student Filmmakers Honored at Tribeca Film Festival

April 25, 2014
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Today at the Tribeca Film Festival, LabTV announced that University of Maryland sophomore Kai Keefe and freshman Aaron Solomon received filmmaker awards for their short, engaging video portraits of young medical researchers who work in labs funded by the National Institutes of Health. The video profiles aim to inspire today’s high school students to follow in the footsteps of young scientists and become “tomorrow’s heroes of medical science.”

Hundreds of videos were submitted to LabTV, which selected 20 winners—including four who received the highest honor Gold Awards, among them Keefe and Solomon. Keefe and Solomon will each receive a $1,500 Gold Award cash prize and a certificate signed by LabTV Chairman Jay Walker and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins.

In announcing the awards, Walker noted: “America’s colleges and universities are home to thousands of passionate, skilled students who are on their way to becoming great filmmakers and videographers. We are delighted to recognize these young communicators for their outstanding visual storytelling abilities.”

Kai KeefeIn Keefe’s award-winning video, he profiled Rachel Lee, a graduate student working in Physics Associate Professor Wolfgang Losert’s laboratory at UMD and in the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology of the National Cancer Institute with Carole Parent. For her research, Lee quantitatively measures how cancer cells move to better understand the differences in movement between healthy cells and cancer cells. Losert is director of the UMD-NCI Partnership for Cancer Technology, which brings together the physical sciences, mathematics and engineering expertise at UMD with basic, clinical and translational research expertise of the National Cancer Institute to solve the most pressing problems in cancer research.

Keefe, a double major in broadcast journalism and environmental science, has helped produce several documentary-style videos covering interesting events, people and issues in the D.C. region. He has also written and directed several amateur short films through the Maryland Filmmaker’s Club. Keefe’s current projects include a documentary about a local Hospice facility and a fictional short film that will premiere at the UMD Film Festival on May 9.

Aaron SolomonSolomon’s winning video featured Di Wu, a graduate student in the laboratory of Kan Cao, an assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. Cao’s laboratory is interested in understanding why and how we age. Specifically, their research focuses on studying the molecular mechanisms of Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a premature aging disease, and exploring the potential connections between this disease and normal aging.

Solomon, a double major in computer science and cellular biology and molecular genetics, is also a production manager at Greenbelt Access Television. His work includes Anthem, a War of 1812 documentary screened nationally on PBS; several television talk shows; and Cultural Crossroads, an examination of the blending of cultural phenomena in high school students.

“Hundreds of student filmmakers on scores of campuses around the U.S. are already getting involved in the LabTV program. The uniformly high level of quality of video submissions we are receiving is ample proof that student filmmakers can meet the professional standards of LabTV and create work that is worthy of the medical scientists and labs they profile,” said LabTV Executive Producer David Hoffman.

LabTV is supported by the National Institutes of Health and Google.