August 19, 2019

"Hinge" Wins Best Student Film in Prague

Hinge Movie Poster
Santa Monica College (SMC) student film HINGE has won the Best Student Film Award at the 2019 Prague Independent Film Festival (PIFF).

SMC Film “Hinge” Wins Best Student Film at the 2019 Prague Independent Film Festival


SANTA MONICA, CA—Santa Monica College (SMC) student film HINGE has won the Best Student Film Award at the 2019 Prague Independent Film Festival (PIFF). Written and directed by SMC student Lisa Mayo and produced by SMC alum Lindsay Eberts, the student film stars two SMC students in the leading roles: Wayne Hodges and Joelle Brianne Graham, and also stars Sandy Olson and Robert Paden.

The winners of the fourth edition of the festival—which took place in Prague, the Czech Republic, from August 5-8—were announced on the Prague Independent Film Festival website. There were 14 prize winners and the Grand Prix was awarded to the Finnish film "M" by Anna Eriksson. The film festival accepted submissions from professional filmmakers from all over the world, and 51 were selected by an international jury. While most of the films were Czech Republic premieres, films from various countries such as the U.S., the United Kingdom, China, Ireland, France, Finland, Russia, Bulgaria, France, Luxembourg, and Germany were also screened.

A poignant LGBTQ drama, HINGE tells the story of a mentally unstable man who develops a fixation on his new neighbors—a lesbian couple with an idyllic life—when he stops taking his anti-psychotic medication.

Writer-director Lisa Mayo said that the topic of mental health is something of importance to her. “I gained a great deal of compassion and respect for patients suffering from mental health issues during my time as a registered nursing student,” said Mayo. “I witnessed firsthand the stigma that was attached to these patients by the very people that were supposed to be caring for them. I also noticed the lack of resources for patients as well as a lack of support for their caretakers. I began to ask myself, ‘how can we help?’ but I didn’t know the answer.”

HINGE was inspired by a true incident, said Mayo. “Then something awful happened to someone I know . . . my friend was attacked by a neighbor who suffered from a severe mental health condition.” This incident, Mayo stated, gave her an answer to a very different sort of question: ‘What can happen if we don’t help?’

Producer Lindsay Eberts called HINGE an “unflinchingly real story.” “This prize is such an honor, and proves that our film addresses a story that is not only timeless but universal too,” she said.

HINGE is an “incredibly powerful film that embodies the very essence of what we’re doing at Santa Monica College’s Film Production program,” said Salvador Carrasco, Head of SMC Film Production. “Not only was this film rigorously conceived and sensitively executed, but it also has something meaningful to say about mental health issues and the prejudice that members of the LGBTQ community face in our society today.”

While the award is “terrific”, Carrasco said that the real standout was how “25 SMC students from all walks of life brought their talent, passion, and impeccable work ethic to help materialize Lisa’s dream of telling a story that is very close to her heart.”

SMC’s Film Production program has produced 18 short films so far, and all the ones released so far have gone on to receive regional, national and international recognition. For more information on the Prague Independent Film Festival, visit the Prague Independent Film Festival website.

SMC offers an Associate in Science degree and Certificate of Achievement in Film Production. To learn more, visit the Film Program website or email The film program—as well as the films that come out of it—is on YouTube as the “Santa Monica College Film Program” channel.

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About Santa Monica College

Founded in 1929, Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). In addition to being California’s leader in transfers to the University of California system, the University of Southern California, and Loyola Marymount University, SMC also offers more than 110 career training degrees and certificates. SMC provides news and cultural enrichment through its NPR radio station KCRW (89.9 FM) and The Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center as well as lifelong learning through distinctive programs such as its Emeritus Program for older adults.