UNT Student Granted $100,000 For Her Next Film

…And she got to meet Oprah.

Still from Boniface’s Sterling-Vices ft. Chromat!k

Junior Ciara Boniface submitted a video in a contest that won her $100,000 to produce her next movie, a Nissan Leaf, and a visit to the premiere of A Wrinkle in Time, which opened March 9. “I just had a feeling it was possible to be able to win it,” Boniface said. “It’s a real thrill.” She beat out 1,200 filmmakers and 20 finalists with her 1:30 minute video she filmed in her room and answered the questions posed by the movie’s theme: Be a Warrior.

“Being a warrior means more than to keep going and be strong,” she said in the video. “It means to overcome and face and accept what makes you, you.” A Disney official FaceTimed her to give her the news. “After that, I was very excited and freaked out,” she said. “I jumped up and screamed and told all my friends about it.”

Boniface is a New Orleans native who moved to McKinney when she was 7 years old as part of the Hurricane Katrina evacuation. She began making movies of herself skateboarding in eighth grade. She kept it up in high school, even attending the All-American High School Film Festival and the 2014 Downtown Tyler Film Festival.

She chose to attend University of North Texas for its strong media arts program. At UNT, she has made several movies, including the 6-minute Mental Patients Only, about a mother searching for her daughter in a mental asylum.

The premiere “almost felt like a dream,” as she got to meet Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. She also spoke with Wrinkle director Ava DuVernay, who shared with Boniface that she had seen her work on social media.

“That really gave me a chill,” Boniface said. “I didn’t think she would remember me. She told me to keep going and keep shooting. She said she picked me. It was really great.”

The 12-minute Dirty Money, a drama/thriller about three people who commit a robbery, was screened at the Denton Black Film in January. The film is available on YouTube and Vimeo.

With the contest money, Boniface is writing the film. She hopes to pursue a career as a director, cinematographer or editor.

“It’s just really important to put that out in the world,” she said. “Making a movie is something you have to push for and be passionate about the story.”

You can find more of Boniface’s work here.

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