Student filmmakers and movie lovers alike heeded the call for the inaugural Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities Student Film Festival. The event was held Wednesday night at the St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis.
ACTC Executive Director Carole Chabries described the planning for the film festival as a “whirlwind.” She said it was already April when a group of film faculty decided that the ACTC “needed to try this.”
Professors Wesley Ellenwood from Augsburg College, Jeff Turner from Hamline University, Michael Griffin from Macalester College, Joshua Haringa from St. Catherine University and Timothy Scully from St. Thomas represented each of the ACTC schools in the planning committee.
Out of 50 submissions across all five campuses, only one St. Thomas student’s film was chosen to be shown with the other 15 student films Wednesday.
Junior Will Scully’s submission was unique among the other films. The film, “St. Croix River Association 100th Anniversary Paddle,” contained footage that Scully shot in July but did not edit.
Scully said his boss John Shepard, a professor at Hamline University, asked him to go on the 17-day trip on the St. Croix River and film 20 hours of footage.
“We were going to use the b-roll for something else, but at the end we had enough footage to make a little short documentary just for the St. Croix River Association,” Scully said.
Although the films shown portrayed many topics and issues, the ACTC presented the film festival as part of its commitment to sustainable urban communities.
“We really want to focus on community-building [and] this seemed like a really great way to build community among film students and faculty and the really vibrant Twin Cities film community,” said Chabries.
After the showing of student films, a reception and awards ceremony was held at the Aster Café.
James Christenson of Macalester College was awarded first place for Local Motives. The film told the story of the town of Staples and the community of Rondo, both majorly affected by transportation decisions in Minnesota.
“It’s not just a story of public policy planning,” Christenson said. “There’s also some sense of a community’s resolve and will to continue on into the future.”
Tracy Sitterley was awarded first runner-up for “Millionaire” and Jenna Schaude was awarded second runner-up for “Werther’s Original.” Both represented St. Catherine University.
According to Chabries, the selection process for the films began with the film planning committee who watched them in rotation and judged them.
“We had a rubric, we had criteria, and we took the top votes and asked our judges to review those films,” Chabries said.
The panel of judges, chosen through several brainstorming committees, consisted of Christopher Grap, Dawn Mikkelson, Aleshia Mueller and Lucinda Winter.
ACTC Administrative Assistant Stephanie Zimmerman said that overall, she was thrilled with the way the festival went.
“It has been a joy to see how many people are here [and] the variety of support,” Zimmerman said.
According to Chabries, judging by the 160 tickets that were distributed, about the same number of people was in attendance at the festival.
St. Catherine University sophomore Emily Basques came to support her friend Katherine Curtis and her film “The Cupboard.”
“I guess I enjoyed (the film festival),” said Basques. “It was different than anything I’ve ever been to.”
She said she liked Curtis’ film because “some of (the other films) were kind of depressing.”
Basques thinks that the ACTC schools should provide a way for students to get to the film festival next year.
“If it wasn’t an issue, more people would probably come,” Basques said.
Chabries is already thinking ahead to next year.
“We’re always hoping to go bigger and better,” Zimmerman said. “Our goal is always to involve more people and to expand the collaboration as much as we can.”
Chabries said that with more time to prepare, “we won’t try and recruit students over the summer, which was incredibly difficult.”
“Now that we’ve got a year’s worth of curriculum where faculty can be talking to their students about preparing for this, we’re going to be in a much better place to have more filmmakers know about it by next spring,” Chabries said.
For anyone interested in participating next year, the call for student submissions will go out in early spring of 2012.
As for this year’s participants, Chabries is happy with the turnout.
“There was a lot of courage and lot of experimentation and a lot of creativity. I’m really grateful for that,” Chabries said.
Rita Kovtun can be reached at email@example.com.