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Monday, April 22, 2024

12th Annual Davis Film Festival

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday and Thursday night (May 23 and 24), The Davis Varsity Theatre presented the Department of Theatre and Dance’s 12th Annual UC Davis Film Festival, produced in association with UC Davis Cinema and Technocultural Studies and co-sponsored by Art Studio. MUSE sent two reporters to review both nights. Here’s their account of the experience:

Day 1:

On Wednesday night at the Varsity Theater, The 12th Annual Davis Film Festival premiered, showing off the work of Davis locals and student filmmakers.

The festival began with “Not Alone” by Kirby Araullo, a more-than-meets the eye short “documentary” about a Filipino immigrant struggling to situate his identity within a university setting. The film begins with shaky cam footage of Davis life, narrated with subtitles — establishing an endearing and effective sense of authenticity in frame. The film is, in its ultimate duration, an effective portrait of finding oneself, and love, in an alien setting (as bizarre as it is to think of Davis as alien).

Also of particular note was another short documentary, “Dream Come True,” which focuses on the life of Davis graduate and aspiring comedian Alison Stevenson (a past Aggie columnist as well) and her struggles with unemployment as it surrounds the comedic pursuit. The production values are beautiful and Stevenson is rendered a relevantly morose figure. Not because she isn’t funny (she is) but because the improbability of her aspirations are made to be felt, and she is, frankly, any of us who desire something similar.

Other standouts include “Journey,” what might be called a “cute” stop motion short and “UC Davis Light Saber Battle,” which is just that and only that, a delightfully silly and unrepentant lightsaber battle shot at the Memorial Union. Also, “One Day on Earth” and “Sitting in a Room” were effective in their stylistic operations and summoned something up that might be called poignant.

All in all, the first night of the festival was an effective showcase of student work, young talent and budding progression.


Day 2:

The Varsity Theatre held a full house on May 24 for the 12th Annual Davis Film Festival. This was the first time that the film festival was able to pack the Varsity Theatre. Sarah Pia Anderson, faculty producer, thanked Ngoc Le, senior dramatic art and cinema and technocultural studies major, for her hard work in filling up the theatre.

The first movie shown was “Abilities” by David Rosove and Aaron Weiss and was about three guys who eat some casserole and acquire special abilities after eating. One of the guys is able to change street lights from red to green while the other guy can knot fierce knots. This movie was hilarious and well-done cinematically. An award was given out to this film at the end of the show.
Another film that was a winner was called “Myself” by Carlos Gamboa. This film was about the story of Carlos’ life and his struggle getting to UC Davis. The film was not a typical film but was a black-and-white cartoon-like portrayal of his life. In the film, Carlos gets beat by his father when he is little and he and his mom leave the abusive father. All throughout his life, he gets flashbacks of his father hurting him, but is still able to make it to UC Davis. “Myself” was definitely a touching film about someone’s personal struggle and the black-and-white cartoon-like portrayal worked as a nice cinematic effect.
The film that won the most awards was called “Awful Artist” by Lisette Betsinger. This film was about an artist in art class who tries to impress a boy in the class but can’t compete with the other great girl artists. Thus, she steals another girl’s painting and pretends it is hers in order to win the guy over, but he finds out that she was lying and that she is an awful artist. She runs away and doesn’t return, but later in the film, they find each other, hold hands and skip away into the blissful garden. Betsinger used the old-fashioned black-and-white effect in her film and it worked because everyone loved this film the most. It was cute, funny and all about love.
One film that didn’t win any awards but was a winner for me was “A Perfect Match” by Ngoc Le. Le said she made this documentary video to try and get the word out about an Asian girl who needs an Asian donor for a transplant because she has cancer. At the end of the festival, she said that the title was called “A Perfect Match” not only because she needs a perfect match for a donor but because she found her perfect match in a man that wanted to help her find a donor.
Other films showcased were called “Double Exposure,” “Bud,” “Un Salut au Classique,” “Satisfaction,” “Psychedelic” and “Chris.” The awards were presented and one huge winner was the film “One day on Earth,” which was a film showcased on May 23. However, the film that stole the awards ceremony was “Awful Artist.”

As this was the first time I had gone to the UC Davis Film Festival, I was astounded at how talented and creative film creators were here. I encourage anyone who hasn’t attended yet to attend the film festival at least once while in Davis.



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