DENTON (UNT), Texas - The world’s Next Visionary Filmmaker is a media arts student at the University of North Texas.
“I just had a feeling it was possible to be able to win it,” she said. “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 said 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 said. “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 said. “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 the 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 form of expressing herself.
“It’s just really important to put that out in the world,” she said. “Making a movie is something you have to push for and be passionate about the story.”