On the screen, a drag queen pranced through a crowd onto the stage at El Rio, a neighborhood bar in San Francisco, and demanded people to get off her stage before the show started. This was a scene from “Heklina,” the documentary short produced by SF State student Brian Favorite.
Six of the University’s students, including Favorite, had their films selected to premiere in a group of 13 films at the Pacific Film Archive Theater at University of California, Berkeley this past Wednesday, October 8, as part of the Now and Then: Bay Area Student Film Festival.
Favorite said his film garnered positive attention at the time before he submitted his work to the festival. As a graduate student in SF State’s Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts department, Favorite said he’s been asked many times why he never went down the fine arts path, but with his background in television and keen eye for documentaries, he believed BECA was the right choice for him.
“BECA, especially in the grad program, is very heavily theory-based, so if you’re (trying) to understand what your intentions are of wanting to make a project, it’s really good for that,” Favorite said.
His film “Heklina” is a documentary short that profiles the life of Stefano Grygelko, an American actor and drag queen in San Francisco who founded Trannyshack. KQED features the film on its website’s podcast section for “Truly CA,” and has also already been featured in about seven or eight festivals, according to Favorite. This publicity has opened the door for him to other events outside the United States, in places like Romania and Taiwan.
The filmmakers and movies featured at Now and Then are projects special to the Bay Area, and their shorts delivered a variety of storylines and messages, some animated, some not. The audience settled in Wednesday night as curatorial intern Olivia Cueva took the stage and explained that each film was chosen because it shared a concern for the past, present and future.
Kyle Wilhite, a teaching associate in SF State’s cinema department, showcased his film “Lost Cities,” a black and white short that illustrates the emptiness in San Francisco’s downtown neighborhood of the Financial District.
“I was never consciously looking for a grand message as I filmed,” Wilhite said. “I was just trying to recreate my personal perspective through images and sounds. I realized only after putting it together that the film is really about the lack of any meaningful human connection in modern cities, something that concerns me a great deal as a person who grew up in this area.”
Following Wilhite’s film, another SF State student premiered his work as well. Scott Falkowski, a spring 2014 cinema graduate, displayed his short, “Dilemmas of the Day,” an animated film about the Cold War era. His film showed the dark realities of the 1960s with a light-hearted spin, providing viewers the ability to laugh at the paranoid concerns that each of his three characters had about a Soviet invasion.
Falkowski had heard about the festival from his professor, Martha Gorzycki, and said the process to enter the festival was very easy. He added that though the filmmakers most likely won’t receive any monetary or other type of award, he is satisfied with the exposure of his films.
“I don’t think there are any prizes given out for this festival,” Falkowski said. “However, it’s always rewarding to see something you produced get projected onto a large-format screen. I spend so much time viewing my own stuff on a computer-screen.”