Chloe Miller ’14
The Trinity Film Society is gearing up for their inaugural Trinity Film Festival, which runs this Saturday, May 5 at Cinestudio. The festival is largely the work of John Michael Mason ’12, President of the Trinity Film Society, who has worked closely with a group of senior staff and underclass assistants to put on the entire festival. Mason had the idea of starting a film festival to cater to undergraduate filmmakers at the end of last year, and has worked tirelessly to organize and promote the event. Submissions were due in April, and came from California, Utah, around New England, and even from international students. 42 video submissions were received in all, and a screening committee made up of Film Society members made the selection of 23 films to be screened at the event on May 5.
The films chosen vary greatly in format, quality, and length. The only guideline was that films must be shorter than ten minutes. Two of the chosen films are just one minute long, while the rest vary within the time limit. There is also an animated films, a horror film, and plenty of humor and drama. Mason wanted to keep the total screening time less than three hours, so took time into account when deciding how many films to ultimately show. The screening, which begins at 5 P.M. on May 5, will be followed by a reception and banquet while the professional panel of judges deliberates for up to one hour. Cash prizes totaling $3,000 will be awarded to the first, second, and third overall best films based on the judges opinions.
One film to be screened at the festival is the work of Anson McCook ’12, who reworked a short film of YouTube fame called “Smartphone Intervention,” which features a humorous but very applicable intervention of the iPhone-obsessed main character. McCook made the film as a project earlier in the year, but tweaked certain parts and cut the time down in order to make it eligible for the festival. Another film by university of Utah student Cole Sax is called “88 and Sunny.” The emotional drama follows the true story of a friend of the director, who, through first-person narration, tells the story of his father passing away and the aftermath of recovery. During its original screening, Mason said the entire panel was extremely moved by the somber film.
Ted Maroney, who is a senior film student at the Tisch School at NYU, submitted a film called “Little League,” which he describes as “three generations’ worth of small town drama unfolds when a local cop breaks up a high school party.” Maroney filmed the movie in New Haven last year, and several Trinity students appear as extras. This will be their first chance to view the finished film. Maroney is very impressed with the work Mason has done and said “I’m thrilled to be part of the Trinity Film Festival, especially in its inaugural year. I think it will live out to be a storied institution that will stand the test of time.”
One special element of this festival is the high caliber of celebrity judges on the professional panel. Actors, directors, professors, and other industry greats will view the screening and make final award decisions. Judges include the co-founder of Cinestudio James Hanley; Mary Buck, former president of the Casting Society of America; Rob Brink, a visiting film lecturer and director of the student production group Trinity Action! Films; actor and writer Brian Currie; and Dr. Michael Walsh, founder and chair of the Cinema Department at University of Hartford. These judges bring a wide range of talent and experiences to the festival that will hopefully attract many filmmakers and attendees to this festival and ones to come. After the screening, the judges will be available for questions and answers, providing valuable feedback for the filmmakers and attendees. Each of the student filmmakers will be in attendance to talk to the audience about their films as well.
Mason stressed how competitive the pool of submissions was. Ultimately, seven Trinity students were chosen for the screenings, as well as two from Syracuse University, one from Colby College, five from NYU, and a scattering from across the country. In future years, Mason hopes the festival will strongly feature NESCAC and other small school filmmakers, but was pleased with the diversity of selections for the festival’s first year. The films from NYU students were very strong and professionally edited, but Mason says they are not shoo-ins for the festival, as many of the stories and originality of more amateur films are strong as well. He sees the festival as a great outlet for schools like Trinity, who have small but growing film programs. The opportunity for students to have their work shown in front of an audience is also a valuable experience, says Mason, because even students who slave away at the prestigious Tisch school at NYU rarely get to see an audience response to their film projects.
The festival this weekend kicks off with a Cinestudio event on Thursday, May 3, where actor DB Sweeney will be present for a screening of John Sayles’s 1988 baseball movie “Eight Men Out,” followed by a discussion with Sweeney. Sweeney was originally supposed to be a panel member for the festival, but due to a conflict is no longer available. Friday night is a reception for Trinity film students and the filmmakers featured in the festival, and the screening of the chosen films begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 5. The event is free and open to the public, and promises to be a spectacular evening of film.