SF State finalists unveiled for national film competition

One week to produce a five minute film. That was the criterion given to 89 SF State film teams to make a movie, with a $100,000 prize and a chance to gain exposure to an international audience on the line.

The Campus Movie Fest wrapped up with a red carpet gala at the finals Thursday night inside Jack Adams Hall. Of the 50 student-made movies, only 16 made it to the finals, and only four won the top jury award, which catapults the top four to compete with 13,000 films from students around the country.

Bonita Tindle (right), a senior studio art major, stands among other contest participants during the Campus MovieFest Finale in Jack Adams Hall at SF State on Thursday Oct. 15, 2015. (Joel Angel Juárez / Xpress)

Bonita Tindle (right), a senior studio art major, stands among other contest participants during the Campus MovieFest Finale in Jack Adams Hall at SF State on Thursday Oct. 15, 2015. (Joel Angel Juárez / Xpress)

Filmmakers entered Thursday night’s finals blind, not knowing if their film would make it into the top 16. “We don’t tell the students if their movie will even screen at the finale, much less win one of the top four jury awards,” said Wey Lin, event curator.

Part of a top-four team two years in a row, Vikram Valluri said he entered the night in good spirits. “Last year we won best picture, and this is just a great opportunity to just do it, to make a movie,” Valluri said.

Valluri and his team achieved cinematic glory once again with their film “The Effect,” taking home the best director award and one of the four coveted Jury awards.

For many non-film majors, it was a chance to make a film with professional-grade equipment.

Criminal justice major Carlos Aguilar and his team of three filmed for two days from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. to get a critical nighttime shot for their film.

“We didn’t really sleep, and a lot of us had work the next day,” Aguilar said. “It was a lot of stress but a lot of fun.”

Since 2001, the CMF has traveled the U.S., giving students everything they need to create a film, according to Lin. Since then, more than 800,000 students have told their stories with the best equipment and training that CMF has to offer, Lin said.

Some of the films sent the crowd into peals of laughter, while others took on serious social matters during the premier.

“Pulp-Free,” one of the top four productions, was centered around the inevitable tension that arises between roommates over things like finding a bottle of Tropicana in the fridge.

Team members of the SF State student produced film "Pulp Free" speak on stage after being named a CMF Jury Award Winner during the Campus MovieFest Finale in Jack Adams Hall at SF State on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. (Joel Angel Juárez / Xpress)

Team members of the SF State student produced film “Pulp Free” speak on stage after being named a CMF Jury Award Winner during the Campus MovieFest Finale in Jack Adams Hall at SF State on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. (Joel Angel Juárez / Xpress)

“It’s just so humbling to win,” writer and director Will Papadian of “Pulp-Free” said, after winning one of the the top four jury awards.

Other films, like Andrés Zapata’s “Father, Daughters, and Sisters,” took a grim look at absentee fathers, sex and violence. With an all-Costa-Rican-cast, Zapata’s film had the audience erupting in cheers by the end. Still, Zapata said he was surprised to win.

“It was really intense,” Zapata said. “I hardly got any sleep; I still haven’t slept. To win was just a shocker. It came out of nowhere.”

The award for best actor went to Devin Parker for his on-screen transformation into the French adaption of Bat Man in his team’s film “L’homme Chauve-Souris” (The Bat Man). “I learned French for this shit; I deserve this,” Parker said in his acceptance speech.

The four jury award winners now wait to see how they will stack up against competitors nation-wide this summer at CMF’s Grand Finale, held at a yet-to-be disclosed location, according to a CMF press release.

Directors like Papadin said they were impressed by the level of talent that was showcases at Thursday’s event. Papadin expressed his admiration for the other filmmakers.

“To see everyone’s movies was inspiring,” Papadin said. “Everyone made amazing films.”

All 50 student films are online at the CMF website. 

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