JU alum, filmmaker earns awards for short film

February 19, 2024

Jacksonville University alum Raphael Cosme ’23 might be relatively new to the movie industry, but the success of his recent short film suggests a promising trajectory for the young filmmaker.

Cosme’s short horror film, Gnomes, which he wrote and directed as a senior film student at Jacksonville University, has been selected and awarded in several prominent film festivals, including:

·      Fiat Lux Film Festival – "Best Acting," "People’s Choice Award" -- Jacksonville, FL, April 21, 2023
·      Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival –  "Best Horror Film" – Athens, Greece, Sept 2023
·      Melbourne Lift-Off Film FestivalMelbourne, Australia, Nov 19, 2023
·      Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival – "Best Escapism Film" and "Best Short Film Director" (nominated) – Tampa, FL, Dec 8, 2023
·      St. Auggies Shorts Film Festival St. Augustine, FL, March 1, 2024
·      Jacksonville Film FestivalJacksonville, FL, April 12, 2024
·      International Beverly Hills Film Festival –  Beverly Hills, CA, May 1-5, 2024

Gnomes began as what Cosme describes as a practice run for his senior thesis film. As production progressed, he sensed it had the potential to be bigger than a graded assignment. 

“I saw something in this project that was special,” he said. “It had a heart.” 

Cosme wrote the film with long-time friend and writer Richard Manzo. The two came up with the story in an advanced production course taught by Jacksonville University Associate Professor of Media Art Alex Willemin, whom Cosme described as influential in his filmmaking process. 

“What helped most were his objective views. He looks at every project objectively. Where is the conflict in this story? What is this character’s wants, needs, and fears? Not only did this shape Gnomes, but these are the important questions I’ll ask myself for every project moving forward,” Cosme said. 

For Gnomes, Cosme was assisted by a team of JU film students, allowing them to assume responsibility in areas where he felt less experienced. BorneoGnomes crew Sedeu Nishevikj ’21, MFA’23, served as the film's cinematographer while completing his Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts at JU. His skillful camera work earned him a nomination for the 2023 American Cinematographer Society’s Owen Roizman Student Heritage Award in the Graduate category.

“I used to do every part of a film by myself, but the JU Film program taught me that there are talented people who can help and even excel at those responsibilities better than I could’ve done. I was fortunate to have that for Gnomes, with talent such as my star actress Olivia Montalbano, who can say a million words with her expressions on screen.”

Currently, Cosme resides in Jacksonville and is freelancing on various projects while working as a news writer and photographer for HOLA news. His next goal is to move to Atlanta and work in its rapidly growing film industry as an independent filmmaker. Ultimately, he hopes the success of his short film will encourage other students in the department to pursue their dreams.

“I hope the film’s success can inspire other JU film students to reach for the stars with their film work,” Cosme said, before thanking the everyone involved in the project's success. “Thank you to the rest of my cast, crew, and, most importantly, to JU for creating Gnomes.”

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