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The Blue & Gray Press | November 23, 2017

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Film Festival Flops

BY DAVID GALLAGHER

The 6th annual UMW Student Film Fest was this past Friday, but don’t feel bad if you missed it.

The festival, put on by the Student Senate, was a chance for UMW students with interests in film to showcase their talents.
The eight submitted films were shown on Friday night at an event called “The Spectacle” in Dodd Auditorium. And quite a spectacle it was.

“I was actually surprised how unprofessional it was,” said Andrew Bennett, a senior attendee, referring to the quality of the films. “I guess I just went in expecting better films.”

Of the nine films shown, only a few had discernible plot lines. The first film, if it could be called that, seemed like more of an experiment with a new webcam.

Darien Ruggles’s “Earthquake” left me speechless, not because of his beautiful cutaway shot or dutch tilt (two terms I learned on the Internet service) but because I was unaware such low quality films were going to be shown. It was a comedic look at what it’s like to live through an earthquake in Mexico. And it wasn’t even funny.

“The Spectacle” was presented in a “mock Oscar” fashion, with the filmmakers making their way into Dodd Auditorium from a limousine after being interviewed by Kiama Anthony and Anthony DiRenzo, the hosts of the show.

By far, the most thoughtful and most interesting video was for Students Helping Honduras, although it was an unjudged submission.

I personally think it would have been most beneficial for SHH to win first place in the competition considering the $400 prize money at stake.

Antonio Barrenechea, associate professor of English and film studies, was one of the judges for the festival. In his third year as a judge, Barrenechea said that while he thought the festival went very well, the quality of the films may have suffered because of fewer submissions.

“Some of them were very good from a technical standpoint and some were very good from a narrative standpoint,” Barrenechea said. However, he also admitted, “no one film really achieved excellence” in both spheres.

Barrenechea cited Jonathan Stalling’s eerie “#9” as a technically strong film and Ruggles’ “Beneath the Fountain,” which went on to win first place, as a strong narrative-based submission.

Barrenechea hopes to see a higher number of submissions to the festival in future years. Hopefully, the student body will create a higher turnout of films next year.

With more submissions, the UMW Student Film Fest will continue to grow and become more and more competitive. And with more interest and support from the school, the festival will, with any luck, flourish in years to come.