Raucous laughter. Wistful sighs. Enchanted “aw’s”. A tear or two. These were but a fraction of the reactions I heard and witnessed at the 29th Annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival. As the filmmakers, the actors, their friends and family, and members of the community alike gathered to watch this year’s group of films, it was safe to say, looking around, that everyone was amazed by the incredible quality of this year’s lineup. I didn’t stay for the announcement of the winner of the Audience Choice Award, but I can only imagine that it was a very close race.
As a Film, Television, and Theatre major, I was featured as an actor in two of the films “Spilt Milk” and “Rescued,” so I have seen firsthand how much work goes into each of these 7-10 minute pieces. My directors would call me up at the beginning of the week and check my availability, I would wake up early or head to set late to accommodate everyone’s crazy class schedules (as well as the equipment schedules—all the people in a given class share the same equipment and have to coordinate on who’s using what, when). I would stay for upwards of seven hours at a time, shooting and reshooting scenes that lasted maybe a few seconds in the final product. Lighting was always an issue. Continuity was always an issue. And while I, as an actor, was working maybe one or two days a week, my directors and their teams slaved away every day they did not have other academic obligations, for hours on end, while still finding a way to remain flexible and changeable, to accommodate all the random factors that come with making a movie.
And their efforts showed. With each film that graced the screen, I was duly impressed by the attention to detail, the digital editing, and the compelling nature of each story told. In the documentaries, the way each director chose to portray the relatable humanity of their subjects was captivatingly moving. In the comedies, I found that the writing was airtight and original, with each plot having a distinct quirkiness which ran seamlessly through it and displayed the unique senses of humor of its creators. And the dramas tackled issues that were both relevant and impactful, leaving their audiences breathless as they thought over the poignancy of the symbolism and craftsmanship they had witnessed.
Overall, this festival was more than simply a fun night out—it was a quintessential example of how the arts and life both imitate and learn from each other. And I, for one, am already looking forward to attending next year’s main student-produced cinematic event.
Congratulations to all involved, especially to: Vincent Augusto, Ben Vasquez, Rosie Biehl, Tanner Cipriano, Jessica Wilson, Hanna Zook, John Haley, Julia Szromba, Ryan Taylor, Erin Lattimer, John McDonough, Ryan Leen, Kay Bontempo, Eileen DiPofi, Audrey Grewe (winner of the ACA),Sophia Costanzo, Amanda Pilarski, Indi Jackson, Zach Lawson, Moira Hamilton, Elizabeth Hynes, Maddie Landon, John Salazar, Reinaldo Angola-Hernandez, Grace Weissand, and Sophia Dellafiora.