Denham Springs resident wins film festival award

Southeastern Louisiana University student Amanda Triay, right, a current resident of Denham Springs, recently won a second-place 2018 Silver Remi Award at the WorldFest International Film and Video Festival in Houston. Triay won for her 10-minute documentary, “To Speak Again,” produced for the Southeastern Channel. The documentary tells the inspirational story of Hammond resident Benny Latino’s remarkable recovery of his speech after suffering a stroke. Triay wrote, produced, directed, shot and edited the documentary. At left is Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon.

Southeastern Louisiana University student Amanda Triay with the Southeastern Channel earned a second-place international film award for her short documentary on Hammond resident Benny Latino’s remarkable recovery of his speech after suffering a stroke.

Triay, a current resident of Denham Springs, won a 2018 Silver Remi Award for her 10-minute documentary, entitled “To Speak Again,” at the 51st annual WorldFest International Film and Video Festival in Houston. She won the award in the “College Student” division of the “Film and Video” competition.

“The Remi is one of the most prestigious awards for young filmmakers — it’s where all of the greats got their start,” Triay said in a press release.

As the longest-running film festival in North America, WorldFest has given the first awards to filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, the Coen Brothers and others.

Triay graduated from Southeastern in December 2017 and was immediately hired as a marketing producer at WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge, where she writes, produces, directs, shoots and edits commercials and promotional spots for the Creative Services Department.

“Without the Southeastern Channel, I would have never found a job doing what I love,” Triay said. “I’m blessed to work at WAFB in Baton Rouge, and it’s thanks to the Southeastern Channel that I even got this chance.”

Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon said “To Speak Again” chronicles the desperate journey of Latino, a popular Hammond resident and longtime owner of Kelly’s Bar, now named Benny’s Place.

Latino suffered a stroke in 2012 and fell into a coma for almost three days. As a result, he lost the ability to speak and understand what others were saying, a condition commonly known as Aphasia.

At the suggestion of a North Oaks Hospital staff member, Latino’s family approached Southeastern’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders for rehabilitation services. Roxanne Stoehr, head of the department’s Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic, immediately brought Latino to her Aphasia group.

For the next five years, Stoehr and her clinicians worked regularly with Latino, providing support, education and therapy to enable him to regain his speech and language skills.

“It’s a beautiful story that strikes close to home for many people,” Triay said. “I was honored to be able to produce such a story of overcoming tragedy. It’s a story about never giving up, which speaks to everyone.”

The 2018 Silver Remi is just the latest in a string of national and regional awards for Triay’s “To Speak Again.” It recently won first place for “Documentary” at the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press College Broadcasters Awards in New Orleans.

Earlier this spring, the documentary was chosen by the Society of Professional Journalists over all collegiate entries from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee for a first-place Mark of Excellence Award for “Television In-Depth Reporting” at the SPJ’s Region 12 Convention in Little Rock, Ark.

Also last year while at the Southeastern Channel, Triay was honored by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and its Suncoast Region Emmys with a Student Production Award for her short film, “Insomniac.”

I was actually homeschooled K-12th, haha. And I grew up in Big Branch, which is a tiny unincorporated area on Cane Bayou, right between Mandeville and Lacombe. You're welcome to include that if you want, but either way works!

The Southeastern Channel students have now won nearly 400 awards in the past 15 years, including 17 awards from the Emmys. The Channel can be seen on Charter Spectrum 199 in Tangipahoa, St. Helena and Livingston Parishes. The live 24/7 webcast and video on demand can be seen at thesoutheasternchannel.com.

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