Cinema department gets ready for the 57th annual student film festival

For the 57th year in a row, SF State’s annual Film Finals will give student filmmakers a place to show off their work.

This year’s SF State School of Cinema Film Festival is scheduled to take place during finals week, May 18 – 24. Cinematheque Management class is currently planning out the end-of-semester event and according to lecturer Courtney Fellion, the course is dedicated to teaching students how to run the festival and create a successful event for the whole department.

It also gives SF State cinema students the opportunity to submit their films and receive recognition for their work.

The festival is divided into Film Previews and Film Finals, according to Fellion. During Film Previews, a two-day event, the cinema department staff, students and faculty decide which films will be accepted and shown during the finals portion of festival.

Film Finals, a two-hour long event, takes place in a selected theater where the chosen films are shown and the most favored are given awards. The competition is open only to School of Cinema students.   

Fellion calls the event a “golden opportunity” because students are given the chance to enter their work without paying the submission fee often required by other festivals.

“We give out department awards and prizes and we often have sponsored awards by local vendors such as Canon,” Fellion said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for students to see their work on a big screen in front of all their friends and family.”

Film Finals originated in the 1960s when the department decided to create a way to screen student films, according to the department’s retired facilities manager and SF State alumni, Warren Haack.

“It’s really an exciting event,” Haack said. “It’s been taken a little bit (further) now because we have several sponsors that donate some really nice prizes… it’s an incredible event. I think it is very successful.”

Last year, the festival was held at the Sundance Kabuki Theater in San Francisco’s Japantown district and over 300 people attended, according to Fellion.

Raymundo Peralta, cinema major and student in Fellion’s class, hopes this event will be a moment student filmmakers will remember and cherish for years to come.

“It is a film festival that is by SF State, for SF State, so we definitely want to keep that alive and make sure that the film community in SF State continues to grow and maybe 10 or 15 years from now we can all look back and say ‘Hey, I was there,’” Peralta said. “We definitely want to keep that as a good memory a couple years from now.”

According to Fellion, the Hollywood Reporter ranked SF State as one of the 25 best American film schools last year.

“What is unique about the cinema department and this whole presentation is that it’s not competitive, it’s collaborative,” Haack said. “Students are not working against each other, they are working with each other, which is kind of what SF State is really about.”

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