by Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa, USA, The Review
23 May 2017
A short film by Gregor Kresal, a student in the David Lynch MFA in Film at Maharishi University of Management (MUM), won four awards last month at the Annual Iowa Motion Picture Awards, including the top award for cinematography and three Awards of Achievement for editing, soundtrack, and long-form live-action entertainment.
Mr. Kresal's film has also won a host of other awards at international film festivals.
Shot in Iowa, Slovenia, and France, and titled 8 ½ Circles, the film is a psychological drama that tells a story about a professional mountain climber whose dreams become increasingly disturbing. He is so completely focused on his next expedition to Muztagh Tower, a sharp 23,622-foot-high mountain in Pakistan, that he loses interest in day-to-day life.
In a series of chaotic events that unfold over three weeks during an expedition in August of 2008, his life turns upside down.
Mr. Kresal says that his film, which is a fictional treatment based on his life story, is about why he stopped mountain climbing after being a professional for 25 years. During that time he lost 25 friends in the mountains.
The first 10 days of filming took place in and around Fairfield in April of 2015. In August he and his crew then went to Slovenia for another week of difficult and dangerous filming in the mountains. They then traveled to the high-altitude glaciers around Europe's highest mountain - Mt. Blanc, in France – where they filmed for another two days.
"The practice of Transcendental Meditation has been very helpful in discovering and reconnecting with my personal story," Mr. Kresal said. "It uncovered many suppressed feelings I had not dealt with because of the trauma I experienced due to losing so many friends."
He also said the David Lynch program played an important part in the success of 8 ½ Circles by connecting him with a great crew to work with. The film uses actors from around Fairfield and from Slovenia, as well as Joey Maida from California in the lead male role.
Mr. Kresal is currently in a pre-production phase of turning his 32-minute film into a full-length feature.
His awards include the first prize at the Alpi Giulie Cinema in Trieste, Italy, the Seven Summits Award at the Mountain Films Awards, the Award of Excellence at the Headline International Film Festival, and Platinum Winner at the International Independent Film Awards.
His film was also selected as a semi-finalist at Los Angeles Cine Fest Festival and received another four nominations (for best picture, cinematography, editing, and student film) at the Top Indie Films Festival. It has also been officially selected to be a part of more than 10 other festivals in countries around the world, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, The Netherlands, Bulgaria, Romania, and the U.S.
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