There were over 35 films in this year’s Campus MovieFest at the University of Connecticut. The finalists were shown last night in the Student Union Ballroom to a crowd of over 100 students, the highest number of entries yet for the event.
“This is a record-breaking year for UConn,” said Campus MovieFest tour manager Quincy Bazen, who gives students an orientation on the event, along with helping to distribute equipment and offering advice to teams as they write, film and edit their pieces.
Campus MovieFest is the world’s largest student film festival, started in 2000 by three Emory University students. It has since expanded to include universities from the United States, Britain and Scotland.
This is UConn’s third MovieFest. Originally it was held in the spring, Bazen said, but students asked it to be switched to the fall since it was easier to film outdoor scenes without snow.
The process of filmmaking takes students about a week. Participants are given sound equipment, software and cameras to help in making their five-minute film.
Submissions are judged by a panel of students and staff from the MovieFest team, which tours around the world with each event held at over 50 universities.
Though 35 films were submitted, with 34 teams competing (which was a first, Bazen said), only 16 films were shown at the finalist screening, judged to be the top percentage of those submitted.
Bazen hosted the night, along with Nathan Seibert, a member of The Student Union Board of Governors’ Film Committee, which helped to organize and run the event.
The films shown followed various themes, including suicide prevention, the bombings in Syria and mental illness. One film, ‘Werewolf,’ illustrated the underlying racial tensions occurring with the police, a message of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Others carried a lighter tone. One film, ‘Trapped’ showed the shenanigans of three male students locked in a dorm room for a week. There were several references to the recent clown hysteria that occurred last week as well, with one submission being a parody of ‘The Blair Witch Project’—except with clowns.
Throughout the evening, Seibert and Bazen held Twitter contests gave away T-shirts and distributed several prizes—including a Polaroid camera—to students in a ‘door prize’ raffle.
At the end of the evening, the final four winners of the FilmFest were announced, with each winning team receiving a full pass to the video game convention Terminus in Atlanta, a t-shirt and a spot competing with their film on a national level against other university FilmFest Finalists.
Finalists included ‘Skittles,’ a story about a student connecting to her Syrian cousin through a teddy bear, ‘The Book,’ a horror film parodying ‘The Grudge,’ and ‘Unscripted,’ a confession story with a twist.
The crowd favorite was ‘Grow Up,’ a stop-motion animation filmed with action figures, and was also a finalist. Director, writer and actor/animator Ken Asada described his experience working with MovieFest as enjoyable.
“It’s a really great opportunity,” said Asada, a second-semester digital media and design major. “Even people who aren’t into film can find an artistic outlet.”
The audience had an overall favorable reaction to the festival and the hosts, with many students coming to either support the filmmakers or to explore UConn’s creative talent.
“It was really fun,” said Rubina Bhura, a fifth-semester molecular and cell biology major. “I loved the atmosphere.”
Seibert, who helped organize the event through the SUBOG, said that the event is an important factor in fostering student culture.
“In college, you’re supposed to learn what you want to do,” he said. “Things like this promotes creativity.”
All 35 films are viewable on http://www.campusmoviefest.com/festivals/574-university-of-connecticut-fall-2016
Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @marlese_lessing.