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Sunday, March 25, 2012 - Page updated at 10:24 a.m.

2010 Three-Minute Masterpiece winners screened at Seattle International Film Festival

Watch the winners of this year's Three-Minute Masterpiece digital-film contest, sponsored by The Seattle Times and Seattle International Film Festival.

View past winners: 2009 | 2008

By Marian Liu

Seattle Times staff reporter

For nearly a decade, Seattle Times readers have responded to the Three-Minute Masterpiece digital-film contest with short films of romance, intrigue and suspense.

But this year, we made things a little harder on would-be auteurs: We required that filmmakers use mobile phones instead of camcorders.

So readers got creative. Some produced in black and white or created tripods with alligator clips; one protagonist even filmed himself.

Contest winners, chosen by judges from The Seattle Times and Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), can be viewed below. They were also played during a free public screening at SIFF on May 31.

Grand prize winner: "Big Man's Pride"

This black-and-white, silent, vintage-styled film is about a man who gets a surprise when he peeks into a fenced backyard. "We drilled a hole in my friend's fence where I am housesitting for two months while he is away in Europe," said Adam Bale, a 29-year-old freelance producer/writer, who made the film with Alec Whittle, 35, of Seattle. "He doesn't know about it and the hole still hasn't been filled in."

J. Michael Rima award winner:
"The New Winter Olympics"

This is 8-year-old Max Miller's take on the Winter Olympics, with events like paintball figure skating. He filmed the whole thing, on the ice. "He definitely had the director's attitude. He knew when it didn't sound good, to fix it. I was definitely his assistant there," said his mom, Laura Miller, who teaches children's extracurricular programs in Kirkland.

"In Beginning"

This stop motion, live-action film tells a story of friendship. A blue clay figure pursues a green one, only to be transformed into hugging humans. It was no easy task, said Maxx Yamasaki, a sophomore at Edmonds Woodway High School, who had to secure his camera phone on a homemade tripod made of hundreds of alligator clips.

"A Man Who Got Ahead"

This black and white film is a twist on "Lars and the Real Girl," about a man who falls in love with a doll. "It's a movie about loneliness, alienation," said Gerald Rivas, 52, from Covington. "There is a little bit of that in me too. ... Sometimes I feel lonely, ... and have a hard time relating to other people.

"Dangerous Game"

Mark Ramquist places the cellphone into the hands of his protagonist, who runs from a crazed stalker. The film acts as a witness for a possible crime — "There is a line in there where he says, 'Just for the record, in case this phone is found and I'm not,'" said Ramquist, a high-school media instructor from Woodinville. "With the limitations of using a cellphone, I used it as a part of the story instead."

"One Lonely Cent"

This is the tale of a penny who wants to be picked up from the streets of New York. "This video was one, continuous shot," said Susan Burns, a New York City transplant who grew up in Seattle. "It's not everyone that takes the time to pick up a seemingly worthless coin. But there are still those few that believe in lucky pennies."

"Harriet Tubman — The Early Years"

McKenna Taylor's film, based on the story of Harriet Tubman, was inspired by a school assignment. She borrowed her mom's iPhone and cast her dolls as characters in the abolitionist's life. "For all the boys, except for the baby boy, I used the same person, because I only have one boy doll," said Taylor, a fourth grader at Lowell Elementary School.

"I Love You, Too"

This romantic drama, directed by Jeff Warner, draws on Kathryn Rose's own life. "It's something a lot of us can relate to -- putting yourself out there and wondering if you did the right thing, or if you should have kept [your feelings] back," said Rose, 21. Warner, Rose and a team of students from Central Washington University produced the film in three days in her apartment.

"The Journey India 2010"

This colorful piece documents the Kumbh Mela, a massive Hindu spiritual gathering in India. "India is full of magic and mystery," said David Brunn, a research coordinator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "From having been there many times, I've come to know that wherever you choose to capture an image or sound, it's bound to be unique."

"The Loneliest Day"

Best friends Cameron Moore and Josh Wilson created this film about ... best friends. "I was thinking how bad would it suck, if one of us died, and how to go on without the other person," said Moore, 19, who met Wilson in high school. They now attend Cascadia Community College with him.

"The Laurel"

Inspired by John Keats' poem, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," Stephanie Sundier put together a stop-motion film with recycled materials, like plastic water bottles, for the scenery, characters and props. "I hoped to emphasize the idea that people aren't isolated or removed from the natural world but instead are very dependent as well as influential on the environment," said Sundier, 20.

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or mliu@seattletimes.com