Star Wars fan films get Lucas nod

Director picks his favorite tribute to his own work, but doesn't address most ambitious fan productions.

New York amateur filmmaker Barry Curtis has received the Star Wars fan's equivalent of a presidential medal of honor, winning director George Lucas' nod for the year's best fan film.

The awards, sponsored by online media archive AtomFilms, were announced Friday at the massive Star Wars Celebration III fan conference in Indianapolis.

Curtis' entry, "For Love of the Film," depicted a movie audience that acts out the original "Star Wars" movie after the film itself breaks.

"We congratulate all of the finalists for this year's competition," Steve Sansweet, Lucasfilm's head of fan relations, said in a statement. "The winning films all show a unique vision of the galaxy far, far away and have that incredible passion for the Star Wars characters."

The event helped underline the growing role that fans and audience members are playing in marketing commercial productions--as long as they act within proscribed boundaries.

Lucasfilm's Star Wars properties have long taken a lead in this trend, with conventions, Web sites and myriad fan products dotting the Web. The company has supported a portion of these, primarily parody films and documentaries, which don't aim at creating their own new stories inside Lucas' science fiction universe.

Dramatic films and pieces longer than 15 minutes were not eligible for the AtomFilms prizes. That left out films like "Star Wars: Revelations," a 40-minute fan production with extraordinarily high production values that was released last week.

Among other prize winners Friday was John Hudgen's "Sith Apprentice," positing a version of Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" pitting Darth Vader against Darth Maul and other characters, which won the Audience Award.