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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Eleventh annual UC Davis Film Festival may feature the next Spielberg

Every year in May, UC Davis’ department of theatre and dance hosts its own version of the Cannes Film Festival with the UC Davis Film Festival. The festival will kick off on May 25 and 26 at Varsity Theatre at 8:30 p.m.

This year, the festival is co-sponsored by the technocultural studies, film studies and art studio departments.

There were 50 film submissions, all produced by students. Both undergraduate and graduate student-directors submitted pieces to the festival in nearly all genres of films, including comedy and documentary.

Meredith Sward, a junior technocultural studies major, is a returning festival participant. Sward submitted an experimental piece last year called Oh Dear. The film dealt with representations of beauty and sexuality in children and how they can be seen as violent acts conceived against them. This year, Sward submitted another experimental work titled Perfect Plastic.

“I have been working on a video this year about plastic surgery and the media that combines interviews, performance and found footages,” Sward said.

Sward believes that the festival is a great place to show work and see what other students have been working on.

“The festival is a great opportunity for students to get their work shown and can provide an introduction to the process of submitting to other festivals,” Sward said. “I submitted to the festival because it will be my first opportunity to have my video shown outside of an academic research context and hopefully it will be able to stand alone as a film.”

Jason Ronzani, a senior graduating film studies major and animator, shares the same positive outlook on why the film festival is great for blossoming filmmakers.

“I think the reason why we make films is to, hopefully, show them to an audience one day,” Ronzani said. “The UC Davis Film Festival provides the audience and gives students a chance to see their work on the big screen in a theater setting. It’s always a treat to see how the audience reacts to your film.”

Ronzani is also a returning filmmaker and has submitted a film titled The Trophy Collector.

“My film is a film noir inspired stop-motion animation about a poor man who is killed while trying to sell his last valuable possession,” Ronzani said. “The film explores the themes of love and greed, while blurring the line between supernatural and psychological phenomenon.”

In addition to the experience of showing films to an audience, student filmmakers also get feedback on their films from a panel of faculty members-all of which have many years of experience in the industry themselves. This year’s faculty producers are Sarah Pia Anderson, Jesse Drew and John Iacovelli.

“I really enjoy the faculty and student interaction,” Ronzani said. “At the pre-submission screening, students can get feedback in person from the faculty members about their films before the final submission. I have been given a lot of useful advice at these screenings and they have enhanced the final edit of my film.”

For the past two years, Pamela Orebaugh, a film studies and English double major, has been the festival’s student producer. Orebaugh encourages people to come see the featured short films.

“We have a lot of very diverse and interesting submissions this year,” Orebaugh said. “But what I’m mostly impressed with is the improved quality of the submissions. I mean technically and visually, the films literally look better and we have a lot of very visually stunning and provocative work submitted, the content of the films being very intriguing.”

Every evening, audience choice votes will be taken and tallied. The winners will be presented and announced with awards on the second night. Tickets are currently on sale for $7 at Varsity Theatre.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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