Hope takes first at annual Student Film Festival

BY ELIZABETH MCMAHON ’13
Staff Writer

The annual Student Film Festival took place at 7:30 p.m. in the Green Room Theatre Wednesday. Continuing a tradition that started a few years ago, the film faculty selects several films from the works composed by students in the previous year’s classes and showcases them for the whole campus, ultimately selecting a first, second, and third-place winner.

What’s exciting about the annual festival is how much it changes every year. The judges are always different, bringing a fresh perspective to the type of criteria used in determining the winners. Additionally, since film classes change each year the festival always has new types of films.

For example, last year the festival contained several experimental films due to the avant-garde cinema class in 2011, whereas this year the films seemed to focus more on documentary style because of the documentary workshop offered last year.

This year, with the absence of Dirk Eitzen, professor of film and media studies, Jeremy Moss, assistant professor of film and media studies, and Zachary Reese, video production program manager, worked together to pick out the best films of 2011-2012. Their goal was to select films which encompassed all types of filmmaking taught in the previous year — in this case documentary, intro, narrative, and a few independent studies — and they wanted to be certain the works included in the festival were the best quality, both creatively and technically.

The festival began with an introduction from Moss. He said a few words about the filmmakers and introduced the judges, F&M graduates Cassandra Lees ’10 and David Godin ’10, who recently created a film together (this film was screened earlier in the day, followed by a small discussion session with attendees and the filmmakers).

Then the screening began; the films were shown back-to-back with an introduction in the beginning displaying the title and filmmaker. A very attentive audience appreciated the films, and at the end gave a hearty round of applause.

After the screening, Lees and Godin congratulated everyone who had an entry in the contest and then announced the winners. They took turns saying a brief statement about why they chose the films they did.

First place went to Jesse Hope ’13 for his The Somnambulist (independent study), second place to May Aung ’12, Jessica Cadorette ’14, Thomas Dolan ’12, and Darshan Shakya ’14 for Prem Dhakal (documentary), and third place to Thomas Dolan ’12 for Silent Library (final project for narrative film). There was also an honorable mention: Jonathan Cruz ’13 for Kuba.

Cruz compiled his film while he was abroad in Prague.

“I was glad I didn’t place,” Cruz said. “I didn’t shoot the film on campus and because of that I don’t think it would have been fair.”
Cruz had many struggles in directing a film where the actors were speaking a different language, and yet he also had the opportunity to film on actual film, while the F&M students filmed their projects digitally.

An event in his childhood inspired the film but he admitted the transference of that event to another culture proved to be a difficult task.

Dolan placed second for his contribution in the documentary Prem Dhakal and third for his narrative film Silent Library.

“I wanted to experiment with reality and surrealism by using different lighting, color correction, sounds, and camera lenses,” said Dolan, speaking about Silent Library. “The idea for my story came about as a way for me to try something new.”

Dolan graduated in May, and he expressed how excited he was that even as an F&M graduate he was still being recognized for his work in the film department.

The event itself was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Theatre, Dance, and Film (TDF) department and Brooks College House. Film professors Eitzen and Moss were both present at the event even though Eitzen is currently on sabbatical. Roger Godin, associate dean and Brooks College House prefect, was also there showing his support for the festival.

The festival was overall a success, showcasing the best works from last year.

Next year the festival proves to be interesting yet again since there will be some visiting film professors who are currently teaching some intriguing courses on campus. It will be an adventure to see what the films of next year bring.

Questions? Email Elizabeth at emcmahon@fandm.edu.

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