A look into the 2022 MCVA Film Showcase

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Audience watching 818 on the last night of the showcase

Leanna Ward, Copy Editor

Pace’s MCVA (Media Communications and Visual Arts) department held their annual student film showcase from September 11th to September 13th.

The showcase was started in 2015 by Professor LaRosa of the Media & Communications department. The films shown in the showcase were all up for competition and were judged by a jury panel of MCVA alumni. The event this year was sponsored by B&H Photo who gave B&H gift cards to winners.

The event took place this year inside Elm Hall in the movie theater lounge on the second floor. This lounge is a part of where the artists in residence program resides, a program that is dedicated to the arts and collaborated with the MCVA department to put on this event.

The first night of the showcase featured some heavier submissions, in terms of subject matter. A trigger warning for drug abuse and sexual abuse is warranted for a few of the following films. 

Lineup of the 9/11 Showcase:

First was The Haunting of Thornfield Hall by Emily Teixeira, a re-edit of clips from the 2006 BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre, to become a horror film. Next was the film Reminisce, directed by Brennan Conley. This was a very heavy but important film shown from the perspective of a young woman, played by Trinity Neis-Stout recovering from the trauma of a sexually abusive relationship.

Following this was Take Some Time, directed by Sheena Williams. The film shows a student, played by Thalia Bazile, who is an RA and a 4.0 student but is struggling with drug abuse. Take Some Time film won the july away for editing. 

Following this was Antidote, directed by Jaileen Ramirez, which follows two young addicts, played by Maria Torrealba and Jenna Franco, on the road to recovery. The film follows their relationship and how drugs first brought them together as them met at an NA meeting, but eventually, impairs their relationship.

 The second night featured some more lighthearted films, made up of the following.

Lineup of the 9/12 Showcase:

The night started with Make Your Own Adventure by Wesley Brown. The film follows Wesley on a biking journey from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California he took during the summer of 2021. Make Your Own Adventure was the runner-up for the Jury Award for editing as well as for story. 

Brown had 3 projects he worked on shown at the showcase, (Make Your Own Adventure, Barrington, and Human Error.) Regarding what showing these to a wider audience was like, he said, “It’s really fun to have work that you put a lot of time into shown to a wider audience. I loved seeing and hearing how people react to my work because it provides a great mirror of that work that you couldn’t get just by analyzing it yourself. It’s a good reminder that no good art comes from a creative vacuum. My two films were shown at the blue and golden globe awards last semester, but that was the first time I saw Barrington in front of a live audience. That was a pretty nice experience.”

Following Make Your Own Adventure was The Pool, directed by Brennan Conley, an artistic piece about the liminal space that is a pool. The film was the runner-up for the Jury award for cinematography, and an honorable mention for editing, music/sound, and sets/production design.

Then, Jared Goes to Jail, with an ensemble crew of Cennet Kurtev, Evan Marino, Cami Roadman, and Anna Giacalone, is a mockumentary about Jared Klingel, a washed up tv star winding up in jail, and his experiences there. Following this, The Pub Life by Eily Jones; a short documentary looking into the inner workings of The Old Storehouse; a pub at the heart of Dublin, Ireland.

The last film of the night was Barrington, directed by Emily Aliferi. A sweet romantic comedy that takes place in the not-so-distant future where cars have become obsolete and have been replaced by teleportation. The film follows 2 people, Hazel and Tony, played by Kelsey O’Keefe and Wesley Brown, who are on a date. Tony is one of the last remaining owners of a car and he takes Hazel on a road trip to show her a glimpse of the “olden days.” The film won the Jury Award for story.

Night three featured a mix of horror, comedy, drama, and romance films.

Lineup of the 9/13 Showcase:

The first film of the night was Human Error by Wesley Brown.  Human Error is an animated short featuring two robots discussing their existence on a train full of humans. The film was an honorable mention by the Jury Awards as the funniest film.

I asked Brown what his inspiration for creating the film was, he said, “Human Error was a fun project because I got to write the script for it with an old friend from high school…. I used to draw what happened when we would play DND and whatever we would joke about, and the characters came as a mix from that experience and us brainstorming together later on. It came pretty naturally for both of us and I had a killer time animating it as well.”

Next was The Cost of Living by Jason Labuda, a film following a tenant, played by Kassandra Cruz, who’s short on rent. She goes through a journey throughout the day struggling to make the rent and has a very rude surprise to end her day. The film earned an honorable mention from the Jury Awards for drama and tension.

818, directed by Christian Thomas followed this. 818 shows a young man, played by Nathan Spano, who is waiting at a train station, wrestling with his thoughts, in a dark place. The film won the Jury Award for cinematography.

 I spoke with Nathan Spano, the lead actor and editor of 818 about what it was like to show the film to a wider audience. Spano said, “I’m always typically nervous when showing people my work, mostly since I edit, I can point out everything wrong with everything in it. But the people I showed tonight were very supportive of the entire thing, and it was great to see the people I filmed with reminiscing on our time creating the project. Overall, I’m glad I had the chance to be a part of this showcase and getting my work out there for people to see.”

The final film of the showcase was Comatose, directed by Gianna Capatasto. Comatose follows a college student, played by Ashley Laroche, as she struggles with a neurological issue resulting in a coma, hence the title ‘Comatose.’ We see a lot of this from her brother’s point of view, brother played by Davonte Smith. The film earned an Honorable Mention for Writing and Story.

After all the films were shown and the showcase was complete, the audience was able to vote on their favorites in different categories. Comatose won all audience awards.

Watch the student films shown at this year’s showcase: https://vimeo.com/showcase/9811353