Film Festival Shoots for Greater Recognition on Campus

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Author: Dean DeChiaro

On April 1, the work of Oxy’s filmmaker population will be screened at the Sixth Annual Occidental Film Festival. Planning for the festival has been underway all semester, and according to the student planners of the event, this year’s festival promises to be one of the best yet. “While such media outlets like YouTube are now popular, the film fest is a great opportunity for student filmmakers to showcase their art to their peers how it should be seen on the big screen,” Cindy Tang (senior) said.

Tang, a film major who formerly wrote a film column for The Weekly, will be showcasing her own work in the festival, but the submissions are not limited to students in the Art History and Visual Arts department. “Anyone can submit a film to the festival, not just film students, which is great. The festival is a venue for any Oxy student to express their creativity,” Madison Murphy (junior) said, who along with Tang and some other students, is involved in planning the event.

Murphy, who has been in attendance for all six film festivals thus far, is excited to see what genre of movies are showcased at the festival, as usually there is a very eclectic mix. “I always enjoy the wide variety of films I get to see, from documentaries to narratives, to experimental films. Film is a wonderful medium that people can use to express themselves. I am really excited to see what students submit this year,” she said.

As the festival approaches, questions are being asked whether or not the showcase of Oxy student’s work will someday propel the school’s film program to a new level of prestige. It’s much smaller than the film program at schools like USC and UCLA, but both Tang and Murphy are very confident that Oxy can hold its own in this town. “The Film & Media Studies department is slowly but surely growing. This year’s class is the largest group of Film & Media Studies majors so far and I’m positive we won’t be holding that record for long,” Tang said. She also pointed out the faculty is growing, most notably with this years additions of Professors Pablo Frasconi and Gabor Kalman, who both previously taught at USC.

“Personally I think that being a film major at a liberal arts school makes you a better filmmaker,” Murphy said. She also cited the addition of those professors and added that although she’s not sure if the Festival itself will help the program. “[I think] that the changes the department has gone through in the past few years [such as creating new classes], will help the Film and Media Studies department gain stature against other bigger film schools,” she said.

Much of the buzz revolving around the film festival has to do with the rumor that there might be someone from the industry to host or emcee the event. Different rumors have included famous directors and producers. “We’re in talks right now to try bringing a famous director to talk and present at one of the screenings. Currently, we can’t divulge the name but this will definitely be well advertised if it happens,” Tang said.

In addition to notoriety around campus, the winners of the film festival will receive some sort of prize, which hasn’t been decided on yet. “Last year we received generous donations from the Arclight and Laemmle Theaters, which we awarded to the winners, as well as a few Oscar-nominated director DVD box sets,” Tang said. However, the committee would like to vary the prizes each year, so there might be something different in store for the winner of this year’s festival.

The Festival is set to kick off on April 1, with two screenings, one at 7 p.m. and one at 10 p.m., so everyone has time to come catch the films. “The Oxy Film Festival is a great way for students to showcase their work to other students, faculty, and the Oxy community,” Murphy said. Tang added that she couldn’t think of any reason not to go. “Plus, there will be popcorn,” she said.

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