Buttino receives international award for Sept. 11 film

Kacy Suther

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UNCW professor and filmmaker Lou Buttino earned his sixth award in the 36th annual WorldFest Houston film competition.

Buttino teaches in the film studies department and the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program. His film, “The Lessons of September: One School Remembers,” won Best Documentary honors in the competition.

According to Buttino, it is the story of a small preparatory school in Brooklyn, NY, who lost 11 of its community members on Sept. 11 and how they tried to come to terms with the tragedy and go on with their lives.

“I’ve done a lot of documentaries and interviewed a lot of people over the years, but this was by far the hardest project I’ve even done in terms of the emotion of the piece,” Buttino said.

WorldFest is one of the oldest and largest film competitions in North America. Many filmmaking greats, including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, have received honors in past competitions. In this year’s competition, there were more than 4,500 category entries from 37 countries. Buttino’s previous honors from WorldFest include Best Documentary and Best Screenplay categories.

The competition’s judges are from all over the world and are professionals in the field. For documentaries, their criteria are based on content and quality of production. For screenplays, they look for content and dramatic structure.

“As with sports, it’s personally satisfying to see your peers representing different countries with lots of competition, select your work as among the best,” Buttino said. “It gives me a kind of spiritual second wind to keep working on my art.”

Buttino found out about the award before the WorldFest Houston film festival, which ran April 4 through April 13. He has still not been able to attend the ceremonies because he is usually working on other projects.

“One of my friends won and went and said it’s very well done, very sophisticated, and very exciting,” Buttino said. One day he hopes to go.

The award-winning film was a co-production with New York City’s WNET-TV, which has the largest viewing audience in the PBS system.

WNET-TV, of which Buttino has been named a program consultant, has nominated the film for an Emmy, the DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award, and a George Foster Peabody Award. The program was also selected for inclusion in the PBS national distribution network.

Buttino is currently working on a documentary as writer, director and co-producer with the University entitled: “Troubled Waters: The Illusion of Abundance.” It will be broadcast on PBS this fall and WNET-TV will repeat broadcast “The Lessons of September” later this month.