Upcoming Festivals to Showcase Animated Short by Sophomore Film and Television Student

International student Carlos Lerma’s film ‘Treasure Haunt’ will be shown at two upcoming festivals for young filmmakers: NFFTY and CineYouth.

The National Film Festival for Talented Youth, or NFFTY, has selected an animated short by Cinema and Television Arts Sophomore Carlos Lerma for inclusion in their upcoming festival. “Treasure Haunt” will be screened at the in-person festival on April 27 in Seattle. A full virtual festival will run from April 28 to May 5. 

The short was also selected for screening by CineYouth, the Chicago International Film Festival’s annual film celebration for filmmakers 22 years-of-age and younger that will be held from April 19 to 21 (see story about Columbia's presence at CineYouth). 

NFFTY has grown into the world’s largest film festival for emerging directors. Each year the festival showcases films by directors 24 and under, celebrating and elevating work by women, BIPOC, LGBTAIA+, and other young people from traditionally marginalized communities who are working to build a more equitable and inclusive film industry. 

Lerma, who has been animating his own short films on his iPad since he was 15, initially had a hard time believing that that his film’s acceptance to the NFFTY was real. 

“Having my short film featured in one of the biggest festivals in the country where they say that they feature ‘the best young directors,’ really feels like I slipped through the cracks, something is wrong, or that somebody's going to call me up saying it was all a big mistake. However, it's none of those things,” he says. 

“Treasure Haunt” tells the story of a young man who uses a magic potion to turn himself into a ghost. With his new-found magic powers, he leaves his apartment to go somewhere special for the night. 

move poster for treasure haunt with ghost image 

Lerma, who came to the United States from Mexico to study at Columbia College Chicago, wrote, directed, produced, and edited the short. He is not new to film festivals. In addition to NFFTY and CineYouth, Lerma had a live-action film screened at “Villaneuva Showing” in Madrid. And he is currently working on a short film in his Directing I class at Columbia that he hopes to submit to festivals as well. 

He is excited for the opportunity to show his parents the amazing things he’s done since coming to the U.S. 

“Making my parents proud and happy is always at the forefront of everything I do,” he says. “And having this NFFTY festival selection to show for it makes me want to keep going forever.”