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SXSW jury honors story from city native’s film

Schiffli

“Animals,” the independent film directed by Fort Wayne native Colin Schiffli, was recognized Tuesday for its screenplay at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

David Dastmalchian, screenwriter and an actor in the film, received “Special Jury Recognition for Courage in Storytelling” for his story of a young homeless couple who steal and con others to stay ahead of their drug addiction until the two are faced with a serious reality check.

Out of 1,324 submissions, “Animals” was one of the eight competition feature films screened throughout the festival this week. The film marks Schiffli’s directorial debut in a feature film.

“It was amazing. It was pretty surreal,” Schiffli says. “At first, you want to be at the very top, but once you get the recognition, you realize it is 100 percent molded to what we wanted to accomplish.”

Schiffli, 27, began filmmaking with his brother Brandon at an early age. After graduating from Carroll High School, Schiffli he won multiple local fine arts awards and finished sixth with a short film in the Project XL Farm Bureau Contest in 2004.

Schiffli first met Dastmalchian while working on his senior film thesis at Columbia College Chicago. They quickly became good friends after they moved to Los Angeles around the same time four years ago.

While in Austin, Schiffli says the two have been setting up meetings with film companies interested in buying the film.

Schiffli, who hoped that the film’s SXSW buzz would land him a manager and agent, says he is deciding among four of the industry’s largest talent agencies who have eyed his work during the festival in Texas.

He says that he would like to premiere the film locally but will have to see what comes of his “whirlwind of meetings.”

“It’s been insane. My life has literally been turned upside down,” he says.

kcarr@jg.net

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