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BYU student film featured at Chicago International Children’s Film Festival

By Ashtyn Asay - | Nov 18, 2021
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The title card of "Salt" (2020).
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Sanura and her mother look at lake Retba in "Salt."
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Sanura, the main character in "Salt."

A short film directed and produced by Brigham Young University students was recently screened at the 38th annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. 

“Salt” was directed by Alicia Scott, and produced by Dallin Jones, both former students at BYU’s Center for Animation. The duo enlisted the help of over 50 other BYU students to work on the film. 

Scott and Jones, supervised by BYU professors Kelly Loosli, Seth Holladay and R. Brent Adams, began working on “Salt,” in October 2018. The film was completed in May 2020 after spending what they estimated to be thousands of hours working on the project. 

“The film depicts a mother and daughter in the African country of Senegal who work hard to harvest salt by day and enjoy music by night,” read a press release from BYU. “The short film masterfully highlights the importance of family and joy without the use of dialogue between characters.”

The film takes place in the city of Dakar, where the residents have harvested salt from the pink lake Retba for generations.

The initial idea for “Salt,” began to form when Scott discovered she had ancestry of Senegalese heritage after taking a DNA test, inspiring her to create a short film depicting a Senegalese family. 

“When I learned that I had heritage in Senegal I was amazed. It was something I didn’t know. I wanted to learn more about this place and the people living there,” Scott said in a press release. “Basing our film in Senegal is a small tribute that I could offer.”

To ensure accuracy in the film, both Scott and Jones read books on Senegal, studied instruments and music native to the country, spoke with BYU professors who had taken students there and met with a delegate from Senegal. 

“We took inspiration from all of these sources so that the animation would be as realistic as possible,” Jones said.

While Scott and Jones graduated from BYU in 2020 with degrees in animation, their film has continued to gain recognition. 

The Chicago Children’s Film Festival was founded in 1983 by Facets Multi-Media, and is now in its 38th year, making it the oldest film festival in the country, in addition to being the largest. The festival took place from Nov. 5-14 and featured over 240 films from 40 countries. 

The BYU Center for Animation was established in 2010 and functions under three of the university’s colleges, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology. 

“I think so highly of the animation program at BYU,” Jones said. “The culture created is really unique and one of the main reasons the program has been so successful. It’s a culture of encouragement and persistence and diligence.”

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