Valencia’s 22nd Annual Film Celebration Honors Former Program Director


Eric Fleming, Valencia’s Film Program Director, shares the stage with Julio Uchoa, Jose Cartagena, and Colleen Carr during a Q&A session.

Valencia College celebrates one more year of cinema magic with its 22nd Annual Film Celebration.

Almost two years after the passing of the founder and longtime program director, Ralph Clemente, his legacy remains intact and looks to become more important with the creation of a scholarship under his name.

Eric Fleming, the current Film Program Director, opened the celebration with a few words about this particular degree.

“The great thing about this program is that it’s not really expensive,” Fleming said. “We worked very hard on making it that way. Going to film school shouldn’t mean getting into debt.”

This event serves as a fundraiser for future film projects by students in the program. Tickets, concessions, and merchandise all contribute to the cause.

One particular merchandise item that stood out was a shirt with a logo honoring Clemente and his signature catchphrase “treat yourself.”

“All the proceeds earned from the sales of those shirts will go to the Ralph Clemente scholarship fund for film students,” Fleming said.

This new financial resource will be of great help for students hoping to fund their projects, a task they will have to face when it’s their turn to produce a film and appear on future film celebrations.

Student directors Matthew Durbin, Colleen Carr, Nicholas West, and Jose Cartagena had their chance to share their talents with four different short films with a very similar tone.

Sense, Twist of Fate, Empty Spaces, and Case 2016 were darker projects, exploring themes like domestic abuse, grief, and violence. The short films showcased the students’ storytelling, technical, and even acting abilities.

Both Twist of Fate and Case 2016 were based on true events. Twist of Fate was educational at heart with the inclusion of statistics and information from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Case 2016 was based on a shooting that director Jose Cartagena went through at a house party.

The projects shown were not exclusively Valencia College productions. The collaboration with the DAVE school and Koi Films was the treat of the night, as a fan rendition of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ opening theme earned a great response from the crowd.

Santiago Fuenmayor, a former Valencia student, attended the event and was both surprised and impressed at this special screening.

“It was just fantastic,” Fuenmayor said. “They did an excellent job with the motion graphics and honoring these classic characters. You can tell they did this with true passion.”

The main event would be S.O.S Mulheres ao Mar 2 (S.O.S. Women to the Sea 2,) a Brazilian comedy film co-produced by Valencia Motion Pictures.

Shown in Portuguese with English subtitles, the feature earned laughs from the crowd, including some Portuguese-speaking attendees.

Bruno Dos Santos, a local community member, heard of the original film from relatives in Brazil.

“The first one was well received back home,” Dos Santos said. “When I heard they would be showing the sequel at the college, I just had to attend. The humor definitely had some Brazilian tinges, but universal enough it will be funny to others.”

Late in the film, a cameo by Ralph Clemente as the Director of the FBI earned some heartfelt reactions by the crowd, proof that his spirit will live on forever in Valencia’s film program.