Alumnus’ horror parody considered for Sundance Film Festival

Anthony Cilli, Oakland University alumnus and current high school art teacher in Utah, recently entered a film he and his students made to the Sundance Film Festival. The film is currently being considered to be in the prestigious film festival.

Their movie, titled “SCI-FI FLICK” is a parody of the horror genre.

“It’s about a group of friends who inadvertently get mutated into their favorite fandoms on Halloween and use their new-found abilities to fight off an alien invasion and zombie hordes that are attacking their school,” Cilli said.

Cilli said that he and his students decided to enter Sundance so that they can hopefully be an inspiration to others if their movie is accepted.

“We wanted to inspire other high school aged film-makers to develop their own stories and films and encourage them to pursue film-making and submitting to Sundance,” Cilli said. “We figure if we can do it here in rural Utah, surely others can too.”

As a teacher, Cilli hopes to inspire his students. He received some of that inspiration during his time at OU. While here, he majored in linguistics and studio art and also completed a senior thesis for his art major before graduating in 2006.

“I believe Anthony discovered his love for building and manipulating space at OU. That he is now making films seems an extension of this passion,” Sally Schluter-Tardella, OU professor and a mentor Cilli found inspiring, said. “I am not at all surprised that one of his projects has progressed to such a prestigious competition as the Sundance Film Festival. I am very excited for him.”

After his time here, Cilli received a master’s in educational theory from Arkansas State University. That is how he ended up as a teacher and is able to make films with his students. Cilli said he and his students have been able to make more than one film together.

“My students and I have made three short films so far. Each time we’ve played them in front of several hundred people at our town’s local theater,” Cilli said. “They’re usually horror or thriller related shorts. Everyone loves them!”

In Sundance, they won’t just have their town as an audience. In the prestigious festival, the names of well-known Hollywood actors, directors, and independent film makers cover the screens and credits. “SCI-FI FLICK” is made by some high school students and a teacher.

“We’re competing against major Hollywood and independent film-makers with seriously huge budgets and real actors,” Cilli said. “While we won’t be holding our breath, we do think we have a shot. Our film is very different from most of the films that are going to be submitted.”

Cilli mentioned that while their film is no A-lister, they think they have great potential to inspire young film makers.

“While we probably have a better chance in a film festival geared toward high school students, we think we’re setting a great example of what high school students are capable of when they are focused and dedicated to something they care about,” Cilli said.

The Oakland Post will update this story if our fellow Grizzly and his students do in fact make it all the way to Sundance.