PMA prof’s film wins top honors at three festivals

“Campfire,” an original short film by Associate Professor Austin Bunn, won the Provincetown International Film Festival’s "best queer short" award this month – its third award this summer. The Provincetown award makes the film eligible for an Academy Award nomination.

The film tells the story of a married dairy farmer who travels to a gay campground in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania to find his long-lost love. A blend of narrative film and documentary, the film features interviews and performances by non-actors and residents of the Hillside Campground in New Milford, Pa.

two men on a pier
Provided Bunn, left, and George Hoxworth, one of the actors in the film, at the festival.

"The jury called the film 'wistful' and 'whimsical,' which is just what I was hoping for,” said Bunn, an award-winning filmmaker who co-wrote “Kill Your Darlings,” as well as feature screenplays and television pilots for Fox 2000, Lionsgate, Participant Media and Tomorrow Studios. “Provincetown has been a long-standing magical place for queer people, and I think they saw the connective tissue between Hillside Campground and Cape Cod's gay and lesbian capital city."

“Campfire” also received the Best LGBTQIA+ Short Award at the 2023 Cleveland International Film Festival and the Best LGBTQ Subject award from the 2023 Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival.

The Provincetown festival is an Academy-qualifying film festival in three short film categories: narrative, documentary, and queer short.

"I'm totally honored to have ‘Campfire’ selected to be eligible,” Bunn said. “I've been watching the nominated Live Action short films for years, and while it's the longest of long shots, I'm tickled to think that the AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) jury will consider it."

Bunn is a professor of performing and media arts and faculty director of the Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity. 

The film was shown along with three others at an April event on campus, “OUT HERE: 3 Short Films About Rural LGBT Life,” sponsored by the Rural Humanities Initiative.

The film will be publicly available this fall, once it concludes its run at film festivals.

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Person in the driver's seat of a pickup truck, seen through the back window
Provided A scene from Austin Bunn’s new short film “Campfire.”