Joel Marsh, a fifth-​​year dual major in cinema studies and com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies, believes in the power of telling sto­ries through film.

What I truly love is visu­ally com­mu­ni­cating ideas and emo­tions,” Marsh explained, noting auteur Gus Van Sant’s influ­ence over his character-​​based sto­ry­telling style. “It’s impor­tant that we feel some­thing when we watch movies.”

Critics around the world hold Marsh’s films in high regard. “One Step For­ward,” his short film shot in reverse about a whim­sical young man who pro­poses to his girl­friend on a sunny after­noon in the park, won Best Film at the 2011 Boston 48 Hour Film Project. Last month, the short was selected to be screened at the 65th annual Cannes Inter­na­tional Film Fes­tival in France in May.

We tried to fit as much joy into the film as pos­sible,” Marsh said. “It’s acces­sible and very lovable.”

He and co-​​director Ben Crowell, a friend and film stu­dent at the Cal­i­fornia Insti­tute of the Arts, may not expect to win the Palme d’Or du court métrage, the highest prize given to a short film at the fes­tival. But they do expect to have an oppor­tu­nity to net­work with industry leaders.

We’ll try to put some DVDs and posters in the hands of the right people, but mostly it’s the expe­ri­ence of being there that’s impor­tant,” Marsh said. “Obvi­ously I’d like to shoot big and meet Gus Van Sant.”

Marsh received a $500 gift from an anony­mous alumnus to finance his trip to Cannes. He also received $1,000 Office of the Provost under­grad­uate research award to finance the filming of his recently com­pleted apoc­a­lyptic drama “When.”

He used the grant to rent the RED, the world’s leading high-​​resolution dig­ital video camera on which the Oscar-​​winning movie “The Social Net­work” was shot.

Shooting with the RED camera made the film because cin­e­matog­raphy is one of its most impor­tant parts,” Marsh explained. “There is dia­logue, but the visual ele­ment is a huge component.”

He encour­aged aspiring film­makers to hone their craft by reading screen­plays and short sto­ries, calling Miranda July’s award-​​winning col­lec­tion “No One Belongs Here More Than You” a “sub­lime” work of art.

Reading other writers’ work is invalu­able,” Marsh said. “As a director,” he added, “you have to be an observer of the human condition.”

Marsh will enroll this fall in the Uni­ver­sity of Southern California’s Master of Fine Arts pro­gram in film and TV pro­duc­tion. His long-​​term goal, he said, is to direct fea­ture films.

Obvi­ously everyone wants to win an Oscar, but I just really want to work in film for the rest of my life.”