Last weekend, 40 films from over 22 nations were screened at the Whitney Humanities Center during Yale’s second annual Student Film Festival.
The student-run short-film festival provides a forum for university-level filmmakers, both foreign and domestic, to exhibit their work. Festival director Travis Gonzalez ’16 said YSFF received over 1,200 submissions. While last year’s festival only included films made by Yale students, 75 percent of this year’s films came from off-campus sources, according to YSFF event coordinator Emily Murphy ’17, who also noted that the festival ended with the premiere of five senior thesis films.
Anna Rose Canzano ’18, YSFF’s programming chair, commented on the much broader reach achieved in this year’s festival.
“Last year’s festival included only Yale films, in order to showcase the Yale film community and to strengthen it,” Canzano said. “This year, we opened submissions to undergraduate and graduate students from around the world, to engage the Yale film community in a more global dialogue.”
YSFF is an entirely student-run project, and planning for this year — its second iteration — started in September 2015, when Gonzalez and his team sat down with their advisers to identify a theme. Gonzalez noted that YSFF ultimately focused on films addressing various social issues.
Gonzalez added that choosing from among over 1,200 submissions was an arduous task, which the planning team divided into three stages: Individual, paired and group screenings that eventually filtered down to the more than 30 selections that showed alongside the senior thesis films over the weekend.
“The movies we selected don’t emphasize spectacle, rather they’re very heavy, serious and more than [simply] documentary, full-fledged narratives,” Gonzalez said.
In addition to the film screenings, the festival included four workshops on craft and breaking into the film industry. Gonzalez also emphasized YSFF’s role in fostering relationships between current students and alumni in the industry, allowing for unique networking opportunities.
YSFF attendee Frankie Andersen-Wood ’18 said the quality of the films she saw especially impressed her. She especially praised “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart,” directed by Austrian filmmaker Christoph Rainer about a woman obsessed with recapturing her former lover, and the animated short “Taking the Plunge,” from a team of School of Art MFA students.
While Gonzalez noted that YSFF saw an increased number of attendees in its second year, Murphy added that organizers hope the project will attract an even larger audience in the future.
“I think that this festival was really successful in continuing to bring together the Yale filmmaking community, as well as showing how Yale film fits in with the rest of the student-film movements around the country and world,” Murphy told the News. “I hope that, as the years go on, more and more people come to recognize the impact of film on art and culture, and I think this festival has and will continue to point more and more people in that direction.”