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Festival showcases student film productions

Megan Hemler | Friday, January 22, 2010

Notre Dame’s film production program is often described as one of the top “hidden gems,” around the country, said Ted Mandell, film and television faculty member and organizer of the Film and Television Department’s annual Student Film Festival.

Now in its 21st year, the festival began Thursday night at the Browning Cinema in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. The festival continues Friday and Saturday night, with screenings at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.

The first film festival was held in 1990 in a variety of venues, until 2004 when the DPAC was built and it has been held there ever since.

All films are between three and fifteen minutes in length, from a variety of genres, but all made by students during introductory, intermediate or advanced film production classes.
Mandell said there are several factors the movies are judged on.

“There are a lot of elements, cinematography, editing, writing … we’re looking for a creative piece with high production quality that speaks to a larger audience,” he said.
Mandell said the festival shows improvement every year.

“Just about every year we sell out all the shows,” Mandell said. “And each year the films get more sophisticated.”

This year marked the first time student films in the festival were shot with high definition cameras, and thanks to a number of funding opportunities, students were also able to travel to various locations.

“I traveled to L.A. and Colorado,” senior Nick Andert, a Film, Television and Theater (FTT) major said. “I think it’s good that people in creative majors are given a chance to let others see their work.”

Andert will show the film he made with senior Krissy Estrada, titled “The Documentarian,” in the festival.

After the film festival ends, six additional student films will be available on the Notre Dame iTunesU public site.

“We wanted to keep the show to under two hours, but this is a way to show more of what our students can do,” Mandell said.

Marie Wicht, a junior FTT major, has her first film in the festival this year, said although her film took an enormous amount of time, “it’s a learning experience that you can never find in a textbook … it’s chaotic and overwhelming, and worth every minute.”

Junior Pat Berry, who shares a film in the festival with senior Bob Greenfield, said, that “even if you aren’t a film student you can appreciate the hard work these students have put into their projects.”

According to Mandell, the program has helped build an alumni network.

“A lot of people don’t realize not only the quality of production our students have, but that we even have film production,” Mandell said. “Nobody realizes the network of Notre Dame alums that are working in the film industry, and doing really well. A lot of them got their start with the student film festival.”

In the end, Mandell said, the festival “is for the students … you never make movies just for you and your roommates; you’re creating art, and art is for the public.”

Tickets for the festival can be purchased online at performingarts.nd.edu, or by calling 574-631-2800, and are $3 for Notre Dame students, $5 for faculty and staff, and $6 for the general public.