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2013 Film Festival displays ND talent

Courtney Cox | Monday, January 28, 2013

The 24th annual Student Film Festival, held this weekend in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, offered students an incredible opportunity to check out some of the budding talent in their midst before they become too famous.

The event was a perfectly timed two-hour show featuring 15 short films.

Five of the films were documentaries coming out of the Film, Television and Theater department’s Documentary Video Production course.

One short form documentary in particular hit close to home. Seniors Bri Neblung, Collin Erker and Siobhan Martinez followed three Muslim students at Notre Dame and examined their experience at a Catholic school.

It was touching to see what they thought was valuable about the unique situation they find themselves in at Notre Dame.

The moment where one sophomore describes the process of putting on a head scarf in the morning felt in a small way like you were genuinely learning about her life.

Other documentaries covered little-known hobbies.

Seniors Grace Carini, Marty Flavin and Andrew Cheng hung out with two small-town baseball teams that play by the original rules of America’s pastime, complete with 25-cent fines for cursing, spitting and stealing bases. It was funny, captivating and showed the charm of days past.

“Amie’s Image” was a heartwarming piece about a disabled artist in Chicago who fell on hard times and worked with a Catholic Charities organization to be part of a budding group of artists who are economically disadvantaged.

It wonderfully showcased the work of these charities at creating a comfortable and stimulating environment for people who need help, but it was mostly about the ever-present optimism that Amie had throughout all of his work.

Another documentary called “The Sculptor” was all about a young artist living in Oklahoma and creating ornate sculptures for a nearby monastery. It raised interesting questions about the state of religious art in America and how difficult it is to create beautiful things when the demand for your work has diminished.

Many of the non-documentary films were silent films.

One particularly powerful silent film was titled “Clergy.” In it, a young priest struggles with the temptation brought on by one of his attractive female friends. It was dark and captured the difficulty of making the choice to remain chaste at such a young age.

The ending left you on the edge of your seat and borderline uncomfortable.

The short film “Three’s a Crowd” was a touching testament to the sudden loss of a loved one and the ways it sticks with you through the rest of your relationships.

Another well-done piece was called “Sinking.” It was the only film with no human characters and zero dialogue. Using a compelling soundtrack, sophomore Ashley Puffer was able to personify a toothbrush so much so that you laughed at times and sighed in relief at others.

Some films left the audience puzzled, particularly one called “Mimesis.” It was about the possession of a young female poet, but through the twistingly lyrical narration and supernatural elements it was difficult to completely comprehend the meaning. Perhaps that was the point.

Some horror films were able to cause waves of unsettling feelings in such short spans of time.

One called “Shadowpainting” did a fantastic job of turning the process of painting a woman into a thrilling and dark story.

The reception of all films was overwhelmingly positive and the hard work each filmmaker put into their projects clearly showed at the festival this past weekend.