By Christine Clark
LA JOLLA–Strong, innovative and dynamic films by the University of California, San Diego’s most promising filmmakers will be screened at the university’s’ third annual Up & Coming Student Film Festival beginning at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, May 20 at the Loft on the UC San Diego campus. The new tradition features an eclectic set of eight films with topics that range from parental abuse to unrequited love.
“Some of the dominant themes are dark,” said Rebecca Webb, founding film curator of UC San Diego’s ArtPower. “However, the festival also will feature comedic works, such as a bittersweet story about a student who has a crush on his female professor (‘Just Curious’), a dance video about two males competing for one woman (‘Imagining Love’) and an abstract noir-ish film starring a Barbie doll (‘Malibu’).”
The eight selected films out of 50 entries will be judged at the event by an esteemed jury of media experts which includes Rajendra Roy, ’94, chief film curator at the San Diego Museum of Modern Art; Beth Accomando, ’82, KPBS film critic; James Song, ’08, filmmaker; Tara Knight, award-winning animator and UC San Diego professor of theatre and dance; Larry Zeiger, film and musical theatre educator, author, and composer/lyricist; Michael Trigillio, award winning multimedia artist and UC San Diego visual arts faculty member; and Ligiah Villalobos, writer and executive producer of the award-winning feature film “Under the Same Moon” (“La Misma Luna”).
Clear concepts, strong production qualities, impressive acting and an ability to incorporate humor with drama were a part of the criteria for selecting the festival’s films.
Webb is impressed with the caliber of all of the films featured in the festival, but finds senior Ally Sligh’s work, “When I Blink U Bust in” especially captivating. “She created an abstract/conceptual film about persecution of gay people and incorporated a mix of found footage, studio work and locations,” said Webb. “Its concept and aesthetic are strong.”
The other selected features include “Russell,” a drama by senior John Hong which tells the story of young man with promising interests who has to overcome an abusive childhood and “Again Comes November” by junior Elizabeth Hood, a film shot on 16mm film that deals with death of a close friend.
Webb said she’s thrilled the festival is gaining momentum, especially among UC San Diego’s female filmmakers. Last year 99 percent of the submissions were from male undergraduate filmmakers, but this year half of the submissions were from females. Graduate students also sent in entries, a first for the festival.
Following the screenings, there will be an award ceremony and panel discussion. In previous years, the films were recognized with equal distinction; however this year, students will be awarded prizes for different categories, such as best film and best director. “I feel that in order to prepare students for the real world and for their careers, distinctions need to be drawn,” Webb said.
Prior to the screening, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a “professor unscripted” event with Trigilio. Trigilio will discuss controversial topics like religion, satire and sexuality and will screen excerpts from his brand new film “Bodhisattva, Superstar” (2010).
“The entire event really supports my mission to mentor UC San Diego’s emerging filmmakers,” Webb said. “I feel there are a lot of filmmakers hidden in the woodworks on this campus and I want to draw them out.”
B.F. Taddy & the Moonlight Swingers–a band comprised of UC San Diego students–will be a feature of this year’s festival, to help support the campus’ emerging musicians.
“I am extremely pleased this tradition is growing,” Webb said. “This is my favorite event of the year because I love working with creative students and am eager to help them build their confidence through workshops and participation in the Up & Coming film festival. I have big plans for the future of this program.”