The Tribeca Film Festival might be all the rage downtown, but on Saturday night, undergraduate students were celebrating their own silver screen success uptown, at the Columbia Undergraduate Film Productions Film Festival.
The festival consisted of nine short films, ranging from traditional cinema to eclectic works of art, with awards given to the top three films. Festival stipulations do not limit the types of films students may submit, and as a result, there was a wide range of impressive productions from across the undergraduate filmmaking community. This year’s festival featured non-traditional submissions, such as the music video “Move On,” written and directed by Soorim Lee, CC ’21, and an artistic, stream-of-consciousness-style video submission called “Sankyo Stream of Consciousness,” written and directed by Fergus Campbell, CC ’22.
This year’s first place prize was given to “Recipe,” a short film directed by Tina Shen, CC ’20, and written by Shen and Xuelong Mu, CC ’18. The film is a drama that chronicles a fraught dinner date between a young couple, presumably in their early twenties. Tensions rise as their cooking habits come into conflict—one insists on excruciating detail, while the other insists on nonchalance while cooking. The dinner and the date are saved when both individuals realize the value in seeing things from the other’s perspective.
The second place prize was given to “Kulofobie,” one of two submissions by director Edwin DeJesus Jr., CC ’19. “Kulofobie” is a comedy which tells the story of a man in his mid-forties who gets repeatedly accosted by a circus clown during his travels through a city. After a bit of pestering, some pickpocketing, and a hostage scene involving a pistol, the clown gets the better of his victim and escapes down a street.
An honorable mention was awarded to “Sankyo Stream of Consciousness,” an eclectic piece that highlights the difficulty of writing a movie. The film features quick cuts of various forms of media, including black-and-white clips of the city, shots of bystanders, and tableaux of Columbia’s campus. Written in the style of an inner monologue, the film is meant to be an inner monologue style exposé of a writer’s challenge to come up with a compelling vision for their project. The fast-paced cuts between scenes gave a disorienting and chaotic aesthetic, reflecting the confusion involved in the creative process.
The festival also relaunched the pilot episode of Columbia’s new mini-series “Quarter-Corn” for the second year in a row. Written and directed by Dylan Dameron, CC ’20, “Quarter-Corn” is a mockumentary-style TV show that chronicles the lives of magical creatures, Dave and Donk, as they navigate academics, clubs, and life on a human college campus. The show is currently on its fourth episode and has reached an audience of nearly 4,000 viewers on YouTube and Facebook to date.
A new initiative this year at CUFP was the launch of a CUFP film production team, which directly funds the production of new films on campus. A short drama written and directed by Emily Freed, BC ’21, and Kyra Chen, CC ’21, called “All Hours Open” was the first film by the new production team to be featured at the festival. The film chronicles a recently graduated student’s struggle to find work, love, and purpose in a fast-paced city like New York. Though CUFP ran the festival and funded “All Hours Open,” festival organizers noted that the close relationship between the film and the festival was not considered when judges were making their final decisions.
The panel of judges had three members: two MFA students, Brad Bailey, GSAS ’19, and Andrea Goocher, SoA ’19, and Rob King, an associate professor of film at Columbia. During the awards announcement, King noted that professors at Columbia are often discouraged from teaching classes that focus on filmmaking, and instead are encouraged to focus their efforts on classes which research the role of media in society. At the same time, however, King mentioned that the annual festival is a testament of the passion to create original films that exist in the undergraduate community.
Altogether, the CUFP Film Festival is a way for rising undergraduate filmmakers to feature their work on the big screen. Though it may not be as glamorous as other festivals across the country, the festival showcases a vibrant filmmaking community hidden just below the surface of the undergraduate student body.