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Local Film Festival Honors Sacred Heart Alumnus

Graduate of film and television master’s program wins prestigious award for his unique narrative short

From left are Bill Harris, Sally Ross, Tyler Stirling and Todd Barnes at the 2019 Ridgefield Independent Film Fest.

A short film by Sacred Heart alumnus Tyler Stirling was recognized at the 2019 Ridgefield Independent Film Festival (RIFF) as the best student film. Stirling created his 16-minute narrative work, Little Things, while he was in SHU’s film and television master’s program.

“Winning the award was a complete surprise to me. I spent around a year working on this film, and it was the first real attempt at something I wanted to showcase. I was just excited to have the opportunity to screen it at a film festival,” said Stirling. The film focuses on a man who is contemplating suicide, but after meeting his new neighbor, he falls in love and his life is reinvigorated.

Bill Harris, adjunct professor of communications and media studies and producer-in-residence, encouraged Stirling to submit his film to the festival. “The whole process was amazing. It was my first film festival as a filmmaker, and they put on a great show,” said Stirling.

Todd Barnes, artistic director of the FTMA program, described Stirling’s unique approach to his film. “Tyler pulls off the trick of being ambitious and driven while also being kind and generous. RIFF is a highly respected local festival, and Tyler’s award is an honor and privilege for him and the whole FTMA program at Sacred Heart,” said Barnes.

The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival screens independent films from around the world that tell inspiring stories through unique visuals. The festival takes place in Ridgefield and includes screenings, panel discussions, special events and nightly parties. A team of filmmakers selected films for screening based on their craft, creativity and storytelling.

Stirling, who is originally from Easton, earned his master’s degree from Sacred Heart University and his bachelors from Salve Regina. He currently does freelance video work, taking his career one project at a time, and he is interested in starting a web series in the future.