It’s not quite the level of Cannes or Sundance, but UNCG puts on a good show when Campus MovieFest comes to town. Every year, students ranging from film majors, theater majors to a few friends with a camera, can enter their film for a chance to advance to the national competition. Each film, no more than five minutes long, exhibited the creativity and engaging work ethic of UNCG students.
Campus MovieFest is the nation’s biggest student film contest. It was created in 2000 by four Emory University students. Campus MovieFest uses Apple laptops equipped with iMovie, Final Cut Pro and the Adobe Creative Cloud program, giving college and university students with any amount of cinematic ambition an opportunity to create short films. The equipment is provided to students for free at the outset of the contest for one week to make a five-minute movie.
Once everyone was seated after a short refreshment period, the first of the sixteen movies shown was “Dental Abuse”, directed by Adam Olson. The five-minute film centered around a dentist named Janet, who runs into a slew of patients afflicted with “Swamp Tooth”, a disease that has taken root over the busy time between midterms and Halloween. I also enjoyed “Kismet”, directed by Taylor Rogers. It takes place in a world where death has been made normal, a girl is shown her fate and chooses how to spend her last day alive, only to be dissatisfied. Some other intriguing short films included “In Brightest Day”, “The Mill”, “What Do You Want?”, ‘Dead End” and “Squirrel Movie.” After viewing all sixteen entries, four films had to be chosen to move onto the national competition. Those four winners, given what is termed “The Jury Award”, were, “You’ve Got Mail” by Jenna Schad, “Foodie” by Brendan Malone, “Simple Things” by Kevin Wilson and “Phoenix” by Olivia Mathai. All four finalist’s movies are watchable through the Campus Moviefest website or through their Youtube channel.
“You’ve Got Mail” is a documentary that showcases the inner workings of the United States Postal Service as they adjust for frequent advancements in technology. An interesting perspective I found during the film, was that in this day and age, some people still choose to pick up their mail at the post office, rather than have it delivered to their mailbox. I know most of us, if not all of us, would love to have that type of time.
“Foodie” follows a hungry scam artist (played by The Carolinian’s own Ross Kiefer) as he tries and succeeds in dining and dashing on a restaurant’s most challenging dish, an 8 lb. hamburger and side items. The con-man gets most of the way through the meal before finally succumbing to stomach pain. But, just when the restaurant’s staff is about to call time, he springs up, flips the table, and makes a mad dash for the door. Afterward we find him down the street and out of breath. As the film is about to cut to black, the con man finds a flyer for another restaurant challenge. The last we see of him, he’s running off to find his next free meal.
Kevin Wilson’s “Simple Things” is a quaint film that focuses on how the small gestures or kindnesses in life can make the largest effects. At the beginning of the film, a student goes through a generally unpleasant day. Poor grades, getting laughed at due to said poor grades, he gets run into when he stops to tie his shoe, the elevator isn’t working when he returns to his dorm, and to top it off, he opens his phone to find a grand total of zero text messages. The film then rewinds to the student receiving his poor grade, but this time, instead of laughing at him, a nearby classmate embraces him. This one kind gesture changes the trajectory of his day and reverses his bad fortune.
“Phoenix”, by Olivia Mathai and her crew, harrowing journey through a girl’s attempts to move through an agonizing breakup. The girl (also the film’s narrator) likens the feeling to drowning and spoke about the suicidal ideas that the strife brought her.
Personally, though I may be biased, my favorite of the films was “Foodie”, with “You’ve Got Mail” in a close second place. Good luck to the final four who will advance on to the national round. This year’s competition was phenomenal, and everyone should at least attempt to make time to experience it this time next year.