Filmmaking Senior Wins Big at the New York Film Awards

Dear Dublin, the debut film made by Evelyn Gustafson, ’21 // Filmmaking, was inspired by her adventures studying abroad at Champlain’s campus in Dublin, Ireland.

When Evelyn Gustafson spent a semester at our Champlain Abroad campus in Dublin, Ireland, she never thought it would lead to three awards at a major film festival. Gustafson studied abroad during the Fall 2019 semester in Dublin, and enrolled in Barrie Dowdall’s Filmmaking II course. Each student in the course was asked to write, cast, shoot, edit, and present a film using Dublin as a backdrop. Her film, titled ‘Dear Dublin,’ tells the story of a young girl, Cara, who finds a lost diary in Dublin and decides to read it in hopes of finding the owner and a little bit of adventure. 

Gustafson and fellow students take in the view on a trip to the Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Ireland.

“I had the concept for Dear Dublin floating around in my head for quite a while before I even thought about going to Ireland,” Gustafson said. “When I arrived in Dublin, I found a cute art shop and ended up buying a journal which had a James Joyce quote on the front—‘When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart’—which eventually solidified my idea for my junior year film.”

Dear Dublin recently won awards for Best Original Story, Best First Time Director, and Best Young Actress at the New York Film Awards. “I am so happy with how Dear Dublin turned out and I’m especially proud of the story and direction,” said Gustafson. “I was confident in my film going in, and I’d hoped to win something or even just be nominated. I was taken completely by surprise when I won three awards! I am absolutely thrilled.”

Dowdall, Champlain Dublin’s filmmaking instructor, knows a thing or two about winning awards at film festivals. His own recent film, ‘The Irish Woman Who Shot Mussolini,’ won Best Documentary Feature at the Kerry International Film Festival in 2020 and is currently being shown at film festivals around the world. “I always encourage students to think outside of the box and to dream big—bearing in mind that you are working with zero funding,” says Dowdall. “Evelyn certainly took that advice to heart in making her film. Storytelling is key. I am very proud to be part of the Champlain team enabling young filmmakers to dream BIG.”

“Instructor Dowdall was a huge support for me throughout production and the semester in general,” says Gustafson. “He is such a great professor. He has so much experience and cares so much about each production he helps with.”

“My study abroad experience with Champlain College Dublin was the best four months of my life for so many reasons,” says Gustafson. “Champlain makes it so easy to take advantage of fantastic opportunities like the one I had. It was especially amazing for me because I got to step so far outside my comfort zone—writing and directing my own short film in a different country!”

When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart.

James Joyce

Gustafson now not only has life-long memories of an unforgettable experience in Dublin, but she also has three awards to tack onto her resume as she heads toward graduation and the launch of a successful career.

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