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UW Film Club’s annual film festival showcases top-notch student productions

Short film ‘LUX’ steals the stage at the UW Student Film Festival

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UWFF Awards

Three awards were given out to students at the UW Student Film Festival.

Disclosure: Arts & Leisure Editor Sierra Stella is a former member of UW Film Club and served as co-president of the club in fall quarter 2018.

With incredible special effects, animation, eight-millimeter film, and more, UW Film Club’s annual student film festival curated a diverse and eclectic program, lasting over an hour and a half. The festival, held May 30, blew away the audience and highlighted the up-and-coming film scene at the UW, including the recent addition of the cinema and media studies major.

Comprised of UW cinema and media studies department chair Eric Ames, CEO of Electric Dream Factory and former film club VP Lacey Leavitt, and Scarecrow Video marketing coordinator Matt Lynch, a panel was tasked to award Best Picture and Best 36 Hour Film. In addition, a third award, Audience Choice, was up for grabs.

At the front of this competition was Blake Rizzo, director of “LUX.” Drawing inspiration from the film, which he started four years ago, Rizzo also created the UW’s first cinematography club, LUX, in 2016. As Rizzo premiered the film he had been working on since his freshman year to the greater UW community, it was an emotional and fulfilling night for the soon-to-be graduate.

“The fact that my core idea was able to pull through and emotionally connect with people is really special and rewarding,” Rizzo said after winning both Best Picture and Audience Choice. “It feels like I threw a dart four years ago and it just hit the 50.”

Rizzo noted that filming and editing “LUX” did not come without challenges, including being chased by coyotes and scrutinizing every pixel of the production. Encapsulated in the film was not only its plot but years of Rizzo’s life.

While the majority of filmmakers spent great deals of time filming, the festival also included a special category of 36-hour films. For this category, directors were given a prop, a line of dialogue, and 36 hours to create a unique film. The winner of the 36-hour film competition was “Bad Fruit,” in which ceramic fruit props were the villains of this horror spin-off.

UWFF Judges

Judges Matt Lynch, Lacey Leavitt, and Eric Ames talk before the screenings begin.

To many involved in this festival, film is more than just a major or career path, but a deeply rooted passion. The emotion and long nights that went into the production of the films were visible on every participant’s face after the event.

In the case of “Spaces,” directed by Gabriela Capestany and Julian O’Leary, the eight-millimeter film that they produced was the only nondigital film in the competition and had a special significance to the pair. After Capestany had shot the film earlier last year, she wasn’t able to produce it because she was occupied with other work. Then, O’Leary sent the film to a studio in Burbank and edited it to surprise Capestany for Christmas.

“To see it come together after metering the light and hoping it’d expose was pretty overwhelming,” Capestany said. “Honestly, it was exactly how I wanted it.”

With the amount of time that filmmakers put into their production, each director’s life was intertwined with their films. At the end of the day, the festival was not only a celebration of film but of the people who dedicate a part of themselves to the art.

“I love the way [the festival] brings people together,” Greg Arietta, UW Film Club co-president for the past four years, said. “It’s a statement of where the film community is at this year.”

After the event, it was clear that the film community is in a period of immense talent and potential. With a great deal of progress in the 20 years of UW Film Club’s existence, the UW has a lot to be excited about how the club and the university’s film community will grow in the next 20 years.

Reach contributing writer Caitlin Quirk at Twitter: @CaitlinCQuirk

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