A Reel Winner

Written by: 
Jessica DeLeon

Junior Ciara Boniface submitted a video in a contest that won her $100,000 to film 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," she says. "It's a real thrill."

She beat out 1,200 filmmakers and 20 finalists with her 1:30 minute video that she shot 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 says in the video. "It means to overcome and face and accept what makes you, you."

A Disney official FaceTimed her and told her the news.

"After that, I was very excited and freaked out," she says. "I jumped up and screamed and told all my friends about it."

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

"That really gave me a chill," Boniface says. "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."

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

Boniface is writing a film that she will make with the contest money. She hopes to pursue a career as a director, cinematographer or editor. She enjoys making movies because it's her way of expressing herself.

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

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