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New venue ushers in new era

Chris Kepner | Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Thursday will kick off the 16th annual Notre Dame Film Festival. Showing for the first time in the state-of-the-art Browning Cinema inside the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts, this year promises to take the already much revered event to even new heights in popularity.The Festival will make its longest run in history in 2005, with 12 screenings between Thursday and Jan. 26. Shows are at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. every night except Sunday, when there will be no screenings. Tickets are $3 for Notre Dame students, $5 for Notre Dame faculty and staff and $6 for the general public. They can be purchased in advance at the Performing Arts Center Box Office. Past festivals have sold out, and with the new venue in the mix it would be no surprise if this year’s did as well. Eighteen short student films are being featured, but to see all of them you’ll need to go to two separate screenings. Eight of the films are on the block at every screening, with the other 10 split between the 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows. Pull out the old scientific calculator and you’ll realize that’s 13 films per screening. For $3, how can you go wrong?All the films are the work of the talented and incredibly creative students in the department of film, television and theatre. They were made as projects for class during the past year. You’ll see a good mix of serious and humorous films at this year’s Student Film Festival.”Ellen, Sara, Shaun & the Rest of Us,” is a film by Sarah Cunningham and Ernie Grigg about a bar in Pittsburgh that uses a midget as an attraction to bring people in on Monday nights. “Piston Envy” is a hilarious documentary on auto shows in Mishawaka by filmmakers Monika Mehlmann and Bailey Ertel.On the more serious and introspective side, Hattie Lim gives us a film called “Near the Equator,” which “explores a relationship between two friends and takes the audience with them on their journey which is not quite ready to end.” From Deacon Bruno comes “Dissolve,” a film that follows a man as he visits his childhood homes.The first Notre Dame Student Film Festival was held in the basement of McKenna Hall, for an audience of 75 people. The next year it was moved to the Snite Museum of Art, where it remained until the renovation of the Carey Auditorium inside Hesburgh Library a few years back.The completion of the DeBartolo Center has ushered in a new era for the festival and the entire FTT department. The number of FTT majors has gone from 150 to 215 in one year – a 43 percent increase.The Browning Cinema boasts THX certified sound and stadium seating. The venue is a drastic improvement from the Carey Auditorium. “It’s the real thing,” said Ted Mandell, a member of the film and video production faculty. “Our students will get to see their films shown in a state-of-the-art motion picture cinema for the first time and it’s very exciting.”While the Browning Cinema only seats 200 compared to the Carey Auditorium’s 263, the additional screenings offeredwill actually allow more people to see the Festival this year than last. A little over 2,000 attended the 15th annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival, while around 2,400 are expected to enjoy the films this year.Another huge advantage of the new venue is concessions. Like other movie theaters, the Browning Cinema offers popcorn, soda and other treats to munch on while you watch the hard work of fellow Notre Dame students on the silver screen.The 2005 Student Film Festival promises to be a memorable occasion. Tickets are on sale now and will probably sell out quickly.