Courtesy of T.J. Maresca

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the Ezra Stiles Film Festival will screen student-produced films.

This red-carpeted event in the Stiles dining hall will feature short film submissions — due Feb. 6, one week prior to the festival — from students of all colleges and levels of expertise.

Sabrina Macias ’21 and T.J. Maresca ’21 organized the festival for its second consecutive year. The pair are suitemates and friends who seek an artistic outlet in film production. Prior to arriving at Yale, Macias researched her residential college and found information about Stiles’ film festival. Upon arrival, she was disappointed to learn that the festival had been discontinued, so she and Maresca decided to reinstate the event.

“The Yale Film Society has their own festival, but that’s more professional, directed toward film majors,” Macias said. “This is for amateurs — you can submit anything.”

“That’s why we like it,” Maresca added. “It’s free-form, and it encourages people to branch out.”

Macias and Maresca sought to create an open atmosphere for the festival. Both are majoring in the biological sciences and have been making films independently for years. Last year, Macias and Maresca collaborated on a film that premiered at the festival.

The festival’s rules emphasize accessibility to reinforce the idea that students of all interests should have the opportunity to engage with this form of artistic production. The only constraint is a 10-minute time limit — a new rule this year that responds to the large number of submissions to last year’s event.

“It’s good that we have fewer films this year,” Maresca said. “Last year, we had too many films, and it ended up being way too long. Even I was bored. This year, we have shorter films, which is good for maintaining people’s attention.”

The films featured will be categorized by genre, and moose-shaped trophies will be presented to the winners of each category.

Last year’s festival included categories such as documentary, screenplay, comedy and best picture. “Best Director” awards were also presented to Ronan Day-Lewis ’20 for his film “The Sheep and the Wolf” and Andrew Sandweiss ’19 for his film “Blueprint” — a drama describing the journey of finding a suitable printer on campus. This year may include a music video category. Maresca submitted a film featuring the music of a friend, who may perform at the event as a live half-time act.

The date of the festival coincides with Ezra Stiles Art Week, a week robust with arts-related programming, currently organized by the college’s operations manager, Marc Levenson. Art Week has occurred for approximately 40 years. Past Art Week events include workshops in stop-motion animation, gallery exhibits and cafe-style open mics. The week always culminates in a “classical brunch,” in which Stiles musicians perform in the dining hall during brunch hours.

This year’s event is the fifth film festival Levenson has helped organize. The first festivals held in Stiles in 2012 and 2013 commemorated the residential college’s 50th anniversary and were limited to students in Stiles.

Levenson noted that the Stiles Film Festival has an important role in the arts scene on campus. Amid serious festivals catered toward film majors, this festival produces an environment in which any students can experiment with filmmaking.

“You can be an aspiring filmmaker, or an amateur,” Levenson said. “There aren’t always opportunities for Yale students to let their hair down like this and remember there’s no need to be perfect.”

Other winning films from last year’s event include “A Chinese New Year” by Constance Thurmond ’19, “Tracing Prage” by Leland Stange ’19, “Four Minutes of Fame” by Cassandra Hsiao ’21 and “Clean Man Makes Tyler Make a Mess,” which was directed by James Nydam ’20 and starred Nydam, Tyler Hart ’19, Dean Li ’19 and Dante de Blasio ’19.

Rianna Turner |