Courtesy of Yale College Arts

The Yale Film Alliance is hosting the seventh annual program of the Yale Student Film Festival from April 20 to 23. 

The event — which received over 700 submissions of student-made films from all over the world — will feature mostly Yale alumni and affiliated community members who have been trailblazers across different sectors of the industry, from media executives to directors and writers. 

“It’s so refreshing to see Yale being recognized not just as a place of academic excellence, but also a place that’s a real hub for creatives,” YSFF co-director Daliya Habib ’25 said. “Though we’re not a film school, there are people here who are cultivating a high level of technical filmmaking to tell their own stories.” 

Habib will co-direct the festival alongside Molly Smith ’25. They are bringing the festival back to a fully in-person program after years of COVID-19-related restrictions forced organizers to hold the event in remote or hybrid formats. 

The festival will feature opportunities for students to connect with industry professionals through a series of panels, Q&As and networking opportunities. There will also be several viewing opportunities for student-submitted films, which will be judged by a panel of directors, festival heads, writers and Yale faculty for the purpose of determining awards. This is the first time that YSFF has allowed for submissions from students outside of Yale. 

“We’ve worked very hard this year to create an event that prioritizes building connections with our fellow filmmakers at other schools,” Smith said. “I want Yalies to see the amazing work created by nearby schools and I hope this will be the start of more filmmaking partnerships outside Yale.” 

Panelists will include industry leaders such as Kristen Schwarz, vice president of original comedy series at HBO Max, and Ramaa Mosley, winner of the prestigious United Nations Global 500 Award.

Smith highlighted a new feature for this year’s program: a high school submission category. The winning high schooler will be awarded a scholarship to the Prodigy Camp, a weeklong intensive program outside of Seattle dedicated to helping young filmmakers and songwriters further develop their craft. 

“This is a life changing opportunity and it’s been a goal to bring more talented and diverse filmmakers to the camp,” Smith said. 

The program will kick off with an opening reception on Thursday, Apr. 20 at 6 p.m., which will be followed by the first screening block of the festival, dedicated exclusively to Yale filmmakers. Friday will then feature two screening blocks: “The Natural World” at 2 p.m. and “The Self” at 7 p.m.. In between the two blocks, Schwartz will lead a workshop on development and pitching. 

There will be two more screening blocks on Saturday, titled “Day(dreams) and Memories” at 2 p.m. and “Centerpiece Films Screening” at 7 p.m.. Other Saturday events will include an editing workshop at 1 p.m, hosted by festival co-director Smith, and Mosley’s workshop on TV directing. Saturday’s program will close with the festival’s award ceremony at 9 p.m. and an after-party at 10 p.m..

“I think coming out of a period of time where there was so much isolation — especially for artists and filmmakers — I think creative people really suffered,” Habib said. “So I think it’s been really important that we cultivate the idea of community and create a space where filmmakers can connect and explore their own ideas for films they want to make while meeting people they can create those projects with.” 

The last day of the program will feature two final screening blocks. The first, hosted at 12 p.m., will be exclusively dedicated to Yale filmmakers. The second block, scheduled for 2 p.m., is titled “Matters of Family.” Also on Sunday, the directors will introduce a new feature of the film festival: a series of coffee chats for student entrants with invited industry professionals at the Silliman Acorn at 10 a.m.. 

All screening blocks and workshops with industry professionals will be hosted in the Alice Room, also known as HQ L01, and will be open to Yale students and New Haven community members alike. 

“Film is essentially a collaborative process,” Habib said. “And whether you’re making a film, watching and appreciating film, or discussing the impact of film, there’s a real essence of community that needs to be there.” 

YSFF Director of Programming Idone Rhodes ’25 said she combed through the hundreds of submissions to select which films would be featured and sent to the judges panel for consideration. 

Among the films being featured is a short from Josh Leong, who graduated from NYU in 2021 and whose film “Chicken” was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. 

“As an international festival, we have the exciting opportunity to highlight a wide range of perspectives and experiences that span far outside the boundaries of Yale’s campus,” Rhodes wrote to the News. “Amongst so many phenomenal films, the ones ultimately selected for the program exhibited a thoughtful, innovative vision of their chosen subject. I gravitated towards films that challenged my expectations as a viewer, and I can’t wait for audiences at the film festival to get to experience these films for themselves this week.” 

The Humanities Quadrangle is located at 320 York St. 

Ines Chomnalez writes for the University desk covering Yale Law School. She previously wrote for the Arts desk. Ines is a sophomore in Pierson College majoring in History and Cognitive Science.