February 13, 2014

Motyl’s ‘Cowboy Christmas’ earns festival honors

A documentary by H.D. Motyl, associate professor in the Department of Radio, Television, and Digital Media, earned “Best of the Festival” honors earlier this week from the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts.

Motyl’s feature-length documentary, “Cowboy Christmas,” won the faculty documentary long form category.  The 2012 film follows four steer wrestlers as they compete in the professional rodeo circuit in summer 2009.

Motyl said winning “Best of the Fest” was beyond his expectations.

“The BEA award is special for me because the judges are my peers in video and film programs across the U.S.,” Motyl said. “They are media makers themselves, and know a thing or two about good work.  For them to choose Cowboy Christmas is just wonderful.  Really wonderful.” 

Jak Tichenor, a producer with WSIU Public Broadcasting provided the film’s voiceover and Alex Kirt, a Master of Fine Arts candidate in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, wrote and performed music featured in the film. 

“Making media on any level is really a collaborative experience,” Motyl said.  “While it may have been my vision, and my push to produce and edit the documentary, there are colleagues here at SIU that helped make it as good as it can be.”

Motyl and other award recipients will be honored at the 12 th annual BEA Best of Festival King Foundation awards ceremony on April 7 in Las Vegas. Winners were chosen from more than 1,350 entries from over 150 colleges and universities in a variety of categories.

The film also earned an award for Best Feature Documentary at the Madrid International Film Festival last summer.

A film screening on campus is set for 5 p.m., March 21, in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium.  The screening is free and the public is invited. There will be a question-and-answer session and reception after the screening, a part of the “Imagining Geographies” series on campus.

Motyl came to SIU in 2007 and teaches media production and writing for TV. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in film/video production and screenwriting from Northwestern University in 1990, and his bachelor’s degree in English from Penn State University.

His work also includes numerous writing, production, and directing efforts on documentaries, including several for National Geographic Channel, The History Channel, and the A&E Channel, including “Jonestown Tragedy,” “Waco Tragedy,” “9/11,” “Warrant to Kill,” “Lincoln Assassination,” “John Glenn, An American Legend,” and “Image of An Assassination: A New Look at the Zapruder Film.”