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A star-making performance

Mateo Caldas, a fourth-year media and screen studies major, has been named Best Actor of the 12th annual Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film festival and the premier outlet for the next generation of auteurs.

A secret panel of film industry insiders selected the winners of this year’s competition on June 22 at the CMF Hollywood Awards at FOX Studios in Los Angeles.

The contest challenges aspiring filmmakers to make a five-minute movie in one week using free microphones, Panasonic camcorders, and Apple laptops with high-quality editing software. Since its inception in 2001, more than 500,000 students at colleges and universities around the world have participated in the festival. More than 100 North­eastern teams of young filmmakers submitted their shorts in March, whereupon a panel of North­eastern stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff selected Caldas as the university’s best actor, propelling him into the Hollywood finale.

Caldas played the protagonist in Reset, a thriller written by fourth-year business major Scott Keenan in which a mysterious man in a black fedora gives a grieving young lover the power to go back in time to save his girlfriend’s life.

He didn’t have much time to get into character, finding out about the gig just one day before filming commenced. “I’m a perfectionist,” Caldas said of his star-making role, “and I committed myself to giving a solid performance.”

His long-term professional goal is to become an accomplished Hollywood actor, a dream that took shape not long after he was old enough to shout, “Action!” By his seventh birthday, he was choreographing his own short films.

Over the last five years, Caldas has starred as the protagonist in almost two-dozen shorts. Playing the good guy, he said, is “where I find the most joy in acting.”

Caldas counts London and Lethal Weapon as his favorite films and draws inspiration from Christian Bale of Batman fame, saying the English actor “takes his work very seriously and I can relate to that.

“I have a passion for making my characters believable,” he added.