There is a great tradition of fan films in the Star Wars fandom, which is precisely why the official Star Wars Fan Film Awards exist in the first place. Every year at Star Wars Celebration, fans and judges deal out awards to their favorite passion projects, and this year, the film that everybody is talking about is TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story.
Normally, Stormtroopers are the faceless villains of the Star Wars franchise. They're known for being terrible shots and serve as great cannon fodder for the Rebels to battle against. However, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens did a great job of showing with the character of Finn, there is a real human being underneath each and every Stormtrooper mask, a man or woman with feelings, friends, family and a past.
TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story explores that idea head-on. The gritty film dives deep into what it's like to be in one of the boots on the ground of the Star Wars universe, and the choices Stormtroopers have had to make in their allegiance to the Empire. In the case of TK-436, it's confronting an important person from his past who just so happens to be on the other side of the conflict. We won't spoil the end here, but the film packs a surprisingly powerful emotional punch.
The amount of work that went into the project is impressive. Sure, it's still obviously a fan film, but the combination of its unique storytelling angle and the impressive visual effects make for a potent fan film that fans of the franchise will want to check out. The film took seven months to complete.
TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story won the Filmmaker Select award at this year's Star Wars Fan Film Awards, selected by a panel of judges that included Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards, executive producer John Knoll of Industrial Light & Magic and co-producer John Swartz. Considering how Rogue One has been described as a war movie set in the Star Wars universe, perhaps it's no surprise that TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story came out on top. You can watch the director's cut version of the film below.
You can also check out some of the other films to win awards at the show this year over at StarWars.com. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters Dec. 16.