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NMSU's Mark Medoff, Creative Media Institute film team honored for Visionary Voice

Tony Award-winning playwright, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, and award-winning film director Mark Medoff, a Distinguished Achievement Professor at New Mexico State University's Creative Media Institute, along with his team of filmmakers, will be honored Wednesday, May 1, at the annual Advocacy In Action Conference in Albuquerque.

Mark Medoff speaks into a microphone
Mark Medoff speaks at one of NMSU's College of Arts and Sciences events. Medoff and a team of Creative Media Institute filmmakers captured the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's 2013 Visionary Voice Award with a public service announcement created for the Las Cruces La Pinon Sexual Recovery Center. He and his team will be recognized in Albuquerque. (Submitted photo)

Medoff and the CMI team will be presented the 2013 Visionary Voice Award for their creative work in helping to prevent sexual violence. The CMI team captured the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's national award with a public service announcement created for the Las Cruces La Pinon Sexual Recovery Center.

"People who are considered visionary always have other people who help them create their visions, and I'm one of those people," Medoff said. "I am a true believer in collaboration; I love the interdependence of separate spirits who share the journey of some endeavor's fate."

The annual award follows Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April and recognizes the creativity and work of individuals around the country who have demonstrated outstanding work in the prevention of sexual violence. Medoff is among 26 other recipients nationwide to receive the award.

He and CMI filmmakers in the College of Arts and Sciences will be recognized at the noon luncheon at the conference at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North, 5151 San Francisco Road NE, in Albuquerque. The AIA conference provides specialized development for professionals from the criminal justice system, victim assistance and mental health field, who provide services to victims and families.

CMI's public service announcements feature five vignettes portraying the primary message that perpetrators of sexual violence are often known to the victim. Bystanders often have the opportunity and ability to stop violence before it occurs. The spots portray bystanders interrupting child sexual abuse by an uncle, a coach and a neighbor. One scene shows an acquaintance stopping the abuse at a party.

"In each one, I wanted to have a hero, someone who sees something happening and stops it before it can happen," Medoff said. "So in each case, the incident is stopped before it happens, and then the cutline at the end is that you can stop this by speaking up, because silence is the enemy in so many cases of abuse."

Medoff, along with his wife Stephanie Medoff and CMI professor and screenwriter Amy Lanasa wrote the scripts after consulting with La Pinon Director Donna Richmond and manager Piper Coalson. He enlisted the help of CMI digital filmmaking students Kyle Karges, Jacob Morales and Yahily Rivera, who worked on the production, co-producing, filming and editing the spots. Medoff also directed the cast of students and community members, and solicited the music from Justin MacDonald, a professional composer who used to teach at Alma d'Arte Charter School in Las Cruces.

Medoff, who helped to form NMSU's Creative Media Institute in 2005, is a playwright, screenwriter, film and theater director, and longtime professor of English, theatre arts and film at NMSU.

In 1974, he received NMSU's highest faculty honor, the Westafer Award. In 1980, he was honored with the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, which is New Mexico's most prestigious lifetime artistic honor. In 2005, he received The Kennedy Center Medallion for Excellence in Education and Artistic Achievement, an award given periodically to a practicing artist who is also a career teacher.

He and his wife Stephanie have generously donated nearly half a million dollars to NMSU to establish endowments for student scholarships and support other programs across campus, most recently a generous gift of land to support the construction of NMSU's Center for the Arts. The new theater in the center was named for the couple.

The public service announcement, now showing on Comcast Cable, has been made available nationwide. To view the video on Vimeo visit http://vimeo.com/44544420.