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Sunday, September 19, 2021

13th annual UC Davis Film Festival selects student films

Students will be given the opportunity to feature their films on the big screen at the 13th annual UC Davis Film Festival. This two-night event at the Varsity Theatre presents short films by UC Davis undergraduates and recent graduates, providing an opening night party at Vini Wine Bar, live entertainment, a raffle and awards for students with best films.

Each year, between 60 and 80 films are submitted, and only about two dozen are selected by professors to be featured at the festival.

“The festival’s purpose is to celebrate film and to show Davis and our community that student film can be very well-produced. Our students on this campus have so much creativity and talent, and to have a chance to show their work at The Varsity is amazing for all of our submitters,” said Jessie Philipps, executive student producer and fourth-year communication major.

The creative works range in length, style, genre and approach. Technical director and third-year technocultural studies and English double-major Kathleen Stilson said the films students submit fall under a variety of genres.

“There are no categories for submission, so people can submit whatever genre they’d like, and this is done for the purpose of creativity. We have a lot of good talent and we get many different types of films,” Stilson said. “There are dramas, animations, claymations, experimental films, documentaries, commercials, live-action — it’s all over the map.”

Over the years, the Film Festival has seen film styles evolve due to changing technologies, film techniques and popular taste of the time.

“As time goes on, I’d say that different types of films have become more frequent, like documentary and live-action films. There used to be a lot more experimental film and individual projects and I think now it has become a lot more of a collaboration where people are using production crews,” Stilson said. “It’s interesting to see how the film community has grown and evolved.”

The event first began through the Department of Theatre and Dance and has since expanded, collaborating with the art studio and technocultural studies departments.

However, this is the first year that the UC Davis Film Festival is run by a student organization. Philipps said that this allows the group to grow a stronger presence on campus.

“This year, we’ve expanded our outreach and gained many sponsors for the event. Although it’s a UC Davis production, it’s also a community event, and we wanted to outreach to the broader region, like Woodland and Sacramento,” Philipps said.

Vini Wine Bar in downtown Davis will be hosting an opening night event, providing discounted wine for audience members. Thanks to sponsorships, the event will include awards for the best films and a raffle for audience members. Prizes vary, from Rocknasium passes, Whole Foods and Yolo Berry gift cards, to cooking classes at the Davis Food Co-op and more.

“This year is going to be much bigger than last year’s event. We’re going to have a red carpet, media coverage, performers outside the theater and a party at Vini Wine Bar on opening night. We’re setting the festival up to be one of the major events on campus. This year’s event is the precedent and it’s only going to get bigger,” Stilson said.

Not only will this festival entertain audiences, but it also provides rare opportunities for students and it can possibly inspire future artists.

Emilio Rychard, assistant student director and fourth-year film studies and philosophy double-major, noted the importance of such an event for both students who hope to follow a career in film and those who merely enjoy filmmaking as a pastime.

“I’m excited for the students to have a chance to make films and present them at the Varsity Theatre. Maybe they’re aspiring filmmakers, and now they have the opportunity to show their work on a big screen as undergrads,” Rychard said. “Those who are selected and who win awards show effort, drive and talent that will take them far in their careers.”

The UC Davis Film Festival runs from May 22 to 23 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for one night and $10 for both nights and can be purchased at The Varsity Theatre or at the UC Davis Film Festival booth in front of the Memorial Union.

CRISTINA FRIES can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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