Complete with a red carpet, buttered popcorn machine and suits and gowns to match, USF students gathered outside the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater on Monday night to mingle with past and present filmmakers ahead of USF’s Campus MovieFest (CMF) 2017 Finale.
The 10th anniversary event held a reception for participants to network, sip and nibble on refreshments and snap a couple of pictures on the red carpet.
Once doors to the event opened, spectators gradually filtered into the theater. An enthusiastic soundtrack included a lively assortment of songs from iconic movies to classic dance favorites, like, Simple Minds' “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from “The Breakfast Club” and Huey Lewis and the News’ “The Power of Love” from “Back to the Future.” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” encouraged some audience members to re-enact the infamous dance routine in the music video.
As the audience settled in, the hosts for the night Sid Bhand, Campus Activities Board Director for Movies on the Lawn, and USF alum and CMF National Winner, Quincy Bazen, opened the event and drove audience excitement.
Bazen won the CMF National Best Picture title last year, for his musical film, “Flusical!” Now Bazen shows his support for USF community filmmakers by reiterating how college students are inspiring the event.
“Go share and tell stories—get them out into the world,” said Bazen.
Choosing from 70 student teams, the top 16 films will be showcased and the top four films will be selected as the event’s Jury Award Winners and move on to the CMF National Finale TERMINUS in Atlanta in June. Students will compete with other colleges across the country for $100,000 in cash, prizes and professional job opportunities.
Hundreds were in attendance to watch the top 16 films shot, edited and presented in a week’s time.
The four Jury Award Winners were “The Inbetween,” “Outlook,” “Rogue” and “Catharsis.”
The winners won the judges over with thematic elements spanning from death, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, espionage and overcoming anxieties to accept one’s true calling in art.
The filmmakers of “The Inbetween” expressed their gratitude and excitement for the recognition.
“Our film was about a second chance at life,” said Fouad Albadrasawi, a third-year bio med student and actor in the film. “Even though life is not perfect, it is beautiful and we need to learn to appreciate what we have."
The duration of production was short and intensive, but the outcome is something the cast and crew are proud of. During the screening, tensions were high.
“We all had the fear of people not responding or seeing our intended vision,” said Sarah Salimsorathia, senior bio med student and co-director and co-writer. “The content of the film is great, but if it wasn’t edited properly then it would not have been what it is.”
The filmmakers of another winner, “Outlook,” were relieved their hard work had been well received.
“I was looking around while our movie was screening and nobody was on their phones—that says enough,” said Allison Hauser, senior majoring in social science and co-director, writer and producer for the film. “It was an emotionally poignant film and that’s what we wanted to achieve.”
Countless revisions were a concerning and challenging obstacle for the team.
“Unfortunately, we had to cut a lot of the key elements out of the film,” said Keon Boozarjomehri, senior majoring in computer engineering and actor in the film.
The messages of the films are greater than the five-minute shorts. The impact made students eager to participate in the event again.
“It was hard but we overcame it,” said Malak Saleh, junior majoring in nursing and co-director and writer for the film, “The Inbetween.”
CMF began 17 years ago, in a college dorm room at Emory University, and now spans across 50 universities internationally — it is the largest campus movie fest in the world.
Raghav Ravichandran majored in filmmaking at San Jose State University and has been behind the camera twice as an undergrad partaking in the CMF event. Now he is the promotions manager and self-proclaimed “hype man” for the event. He stated how USF has made its mark in the event internationally.
“USF has already established a well-known reputation,” said Ravichandran. “There are a lot of notable USF alumni. That’s what’s unique about this school—everyone is putting out good movies.”