Occidental College Professor Dana Plays Wins Film Festival Prize for "Nuclear Family"
“Nuclear Family,” a film by Dana Plays, associate professor of film and new media at Occidental College, has been awarded first prize at the Black Maria Film and Video Festival in Jersey City, N.J. Plays earned the Jurors’ Choice Award on Jan. 25 for her experimental exploration of institutional and personal representations of memory and behavior as exhibited through scientific documentation, animal behavior experiments, and vintage pre-school footage.
Nuclear Family,” released in 2001, will tour nationwide and is eligible for screenings at 50 festival host sites across the country. The 22-minute production features a series of non-human subjects – ranging from mannequins used in 1950s nuclear blast experiments to doves playing Ping-Pong. The notion of family is experienced as iconic, nostalgic and a recollected remnant of the nuclear age.
Plays’ film was one of just nine Jurors’ Choice recipients from a field of more than 700 entries. The Academy of Motion Picture Sciences has ruled that documentary short films that have received the award at Black Maria are eligible for Oscar competition without the normally required theater run.
Plays’ filmography includes 14 short films that have screened at numerous festivals and avant-garde film showcases, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Pacific Film Archive, Montreal Nouveau Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, and Leipzig Doc Festival. Recent films include “Love Stories My Grandmother Tells,” “Zero Hour,” and “River Madness.”