Love, sadness, artistry showcased at Annual Film Festival

BY SARAH SCHAEFFER ’16
Contributing Writer

The College’s Student Film Festival held Wednesday offered a variety of short films, ensuring something enjoyable for all who attended. Each film was crafted by F&M students and the College’s theatre, dance, and film department. Many of the films contained overarching themes, such as love and sadness.

At the end of the hour-long showing, awards were presented to those who demonstrated outstanding work in both creativity and technical aspects.

An abstract creation entitled The Somnambulist by Jesse Hope ’13 was awarded first place. While the cinematography was beautifully done, featuring wide shots of a windy river and an old stone underpass, the plot was fuzzy. Perhaps this was done in accordance with the lifestyle of a sleepwalker — confused and unsolved. The film flashes from a scene of the sleepwalker drowning a body in the river to him partying with friends. Shaky camera angles convey the discord within the man’s life as he takes us with him on a day-to-day adventure, not knowing what he did while he slept.

In contrast to the dark The Somnambulist, Thomas Dolan’s ’12 light Silent Library, a humorous bit about last-minute final projects, won third place. A boy who has clearly procrastinated on his project works late into the night at the library. He slowly loses touch with reality and stumbles about the now-caving-in stacks, searching for answers. After much knocking over of books and close encounters with the shelves, the student finally writes what we assume to be the perfect final project. Comical in every sense, Silent Library stood out from the more serious films of the evening.

Interestingly, it was the film that received honorable mention that I felt to be the most profound. Kuba by Jonathan Cruz ’13 details the birthday of a young boy in Prague during which he finds his mother’s drug stash and subsequently flushes it. For the subtitled film, words weren’t necessary; even if it was muted, the film would still have evoked the same sadness I felt for Kuba when witnessing his mother abused by her boyfriend, or when she had only a “9” candle for his fourteenth birthday. Not only did the film create an atmosphere of tangible distress, it made you want to go out into the world and rescue the boy.

What You Need by Alia Allen ’14 stood out as well, but in a different sense. Free of dialogue, this short film was essentially a music-video make-out session at first glance. Looking a little deeper, the film could be about a young woman exploring her sexuality, uncertain of whether she would prefer to be with a man or a woman and, in the end, choosing both.

Both Commencement by Johnny Grossman ’13 and Daughter by Jaclyn Anderson ’12 presented feelings of nostalgia. Each used film clips from childhood, one of a boy playing baseball with his father and one of a little girl on her birthday, respectively.

Commencement tells the story of a college senior refusing to attend graduation because his father recently passed away. He hesitantly opens a package from his mother to discover a letter and a symbol of courage — a chess piece — from his father, inspiring the young man to attend the ceremony.

In Daughter, the young girl is also shown as a young adult, but in a more adrenaline-fueled situation, in which the protagonist is kidnapped by two men atop a parking garage. Both films emphasized the idea of family closeness, though both with very different outcomes.

At the end of Commencement, one is refreshed as the young man cleans up the many beer cans on his counter, dons his cap and gown, and goes to graduation. Daughter, however, leaves unresolved fear and sadness, as it’s never learned whether the daughter ever returned home safely.

Various story lines and a roller coaster of emotions encapsulates this year’s F&M Student Film Festival.

Questions? Email Sarah at sschaeff@fandm.edu.

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