2006 Hunter College Spring Film Festival

REACTIONS TO THE FESTIVAL

Originally written on May 21, 2006

I definitely had a mixed reaction towards this year’s Spring film festival at Hunter.  On the one hand, I did see some good films in the various categories.  However, I must say that I was really pissed off about the category I was competing in (“Produced On Video”).  I had watched all of the films in that category on Friday, and I came away knowing which films deserved to be voted into the top three.  In no particular order, those films were:

  • Unimatrix 384 – An obvious choice, and not because I made it (although I’d understand if some people thought I chose this film because I had made it).  I went to great trouble to write a great story that could stand on its own but at the same time be part of a much bigger and even more compelling story.  Everyone who had read the script loved it, and everyone who had seen the film prior to the festival loved it.  I received praise on how well the film looked and how engaging the storytelling was.  I was pretty sure it would make it into the top three.
  • End of Our Day – This was a film made by Rob Alicea, a friend of mine.  He played a star quarterback who watches a video and turns gay in seven days (a spoof of The Ring, except he doesn’t die).  It was really good and I was sure it would also be in the top three.
  • Cindy In the City (I think) – This was a film made by Alice (I can’t remember her last name; she had been a classmate of mine in my Media 151 class in the Spring 2003 semester).  The film was about a girl from Europe who visits New York City and goes sight-seeing.  She has a great time and at the end she calls home to tell her family that she’s going to stay in New York.  It was shot in black and white and was accompanied by music throughout.  Again, I was sure that this would end up in the top three.

These were the three best films in the category I was competing in, and yet none of them were voted into the top three.  This also brings up another problem I had with the festival: The top three are voted on by the audience members who watched every film in the category.  Of course, the audience (a small crowd because finals were going on that day) was made up of mostly friends of a couple of the filmmakers who were competing in the category.  Unfortunately, there were only three people who knew who I was, and I didn’t even know they were there until later on.  The three films that were voted into the top three were:

  • Cha Cha Cha – I have no doubt that this was the worst film in the category.  Believe me, I’ve spoken with other people who agreed on how awful this film was.  It came off as a Wong Kar-Wai rip-off.  I don’t believe it was the director’s intention, but that’s how it came off.  There isn’t much of a narrative going on, and if there are any deeper meanings to be interpreted, I couldn’t find any (I really tried).  In addition to that, the acting was horrible (especially the attempted “love scene”) and the framing of a couple of shots was questionable.  If you’ve never seen a Wong Kar-Wai film before, then you probably wouldn’t like his films.  They can be hard to describe sometimes, and not all of them are good.  I can say for sure that there is no reason to see this film.
  • Moment – This film was proclaimed as a “visual poem by Abbas Kiarostami and George Racz.”  It’s basically a one-minute film about a guy who’s thinking about a flower petal floating on some water while he’s standing on a sidewalk and gets a phone call.  It’s nice, but there’s nothing great about it, and it certainly didn’t deserve to be in the top three.
  • Tom’s Place – To be fair, this was actually a pretty good film.  It was made by Alex Patsos, who was a classmate of mine in my Horror film class in the Fall 2005 semester.  My only criticism about the film was that it could have been a little less ambiguous and just a little bit longer.  Other than that, I liked it and considered it the fourth best in the category.  Check it out here.

Honestly, I’m not bothered about Tom’s Place being voted into the top three, but the other two films being voted in did bother me.  Before the winning films were screened at the Pioneer Theater, I had spoken to Rob and even Alex about the films in the festival.  We all liked each other’s films and said nice things about them.  I should have known that my film didn’t stand a chance of being voted into the top three because there were only three people I knew who were there.  Obviously the other people in the audience were going to give higher scores to their friends who had films in the festival.

And there was also a technical problem that might have screwed me.  Earlier in the screenings, there was a documentary short that had a really low volume.  So the person in the projection booth raised the volume, but then didn’t lower it after the film had screened.  Every film that screened thereafter was way more loud than it should have been.  This certainly hurt my film because there were some points where the audio became distorted due to the high volume and you couldn’t understand what was being said.  And the other problem was that my film wasn’t shown in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (it was shown at 1.85:1).

Two other elements that might have hurt my chances were the 9/11 allegory in the film and the audience’s lack of appreciation towards science fiction in general.  I’m not trying to sound like a sore loser, but I do feel I was robbed of the opportunity to have my film screened and judged by film and media professionals.  My experience with this festival hasn’t stopped me from submitting my film to other festivals.  This website alone is proof that I’m still moving forward and trying to get my film out there.  Despite everything that has happened, I will always be proud of my film.

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