Bizarre, Funny, Conceptual Films Receive Recognition
A "documentary" about a global epidemic of insects undergoing metamorphosis in reverse, a pair of human hands performing perfectly ordinary activities that captures the imagination, and an angst-ridden occultist who literally loses his head while entertaining an unfazed family were the top short films that garnered prizes at this year's Gollin Film Festival, an annual showcase that features the best of student work at the University of Rochester.
Sponsored by the University of Rochester's Film and Media Studies Program and named in honor of Professor Emeritus of English Richard Gollin, the competition gives University of Rochester undergraduates the chance to gain recognition and present their short films to an audience. "This year's competition yielded an especially broad range of films, and it attracted an unprecedented volume of submissions from women," says Sharon Willis, director of the Film and Media Studies Program and a professor of art and art history and visual cultural, of the 15 films selected for the festival held on April 30 at Dewey Hall. "These student films are technically very accomplished, conceptually challenging, frequently surprising, and often terribly funny," adds Willis.
|Clip from Lyndsey Godwin's award-winning file, "Synchronized Living"|
"I wanted to show that motion is actually fluid, that it is not stagnant in the way we imagine it to be," said Lyndsey Godwin, '10, a film and media studies major who received first prize for her subtly engaging "slice of life" film "Synchronized Living," which features a pair of hands putting on nail polish, writing in a notebook, paying for a movie, and other ordinary movements all captured in a flowing manner against a black background. "I wanted to do something simple to show that movement is continuous, something we take for granted." "Telefundraisers," an absurdly humorous short film by Godwin about the trials and tribulations of a group of student fundraisers for the University, also was featured at the festival.
Amy Warden, '09, a film and media studies major, received second prize for her film "The Phantasmagore," which focuses on the bizarre arrival of a freakish magician called upon by an apparently anesthetized middle-class family to perform at their dinner table. Enraged by his audience's failure to react when he removes his own head, the entertainer finds himself unable to punish his audience in the manner he threatens as his host totes his head out with the rest of the trash.
Derek Murphy's perversely realistic faux documentary "Chronological Reversal: The Spreading Epidemic!" was created mostly with black-and-white nature and insect footage from the 1940s that he found on www.archive.com. The strangely familiar short film reports on a disastrous ecological epidemic in which a butterfly develops backwards to an egg to its death, as well as the reversed demise of other creatures and plant life. "I love all things odd: music, people, especially insects," says Murphy, '11, a double major in brain and cognitive sciences and film and media studies "Just about everything insects do fascinate me."
Other films at the festival included "48 Days," a film by Jon Noble, a biology and film and media studies double major, '09', a psychological thriller about a young man who can not sleep, suspects the worst regarding his condition, and ultimately gets it. "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" by Eleni Palis, '12, details a cinema-induced nightmare of a student studying for a film studies exam.
The Gollin Festival, now in its fourth year, is open to undergraduate students who are asked to submit up to two works created since enrolling at the University. Gollin founded the film studies program at the University in 1976 with the assistance of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and headed it until his retirement in 1989. The author of A Viewer's Guide to Film: Art, Artifices, and Issues, Gollin also received recognition for his research and writings on Romantic poetry and the Victorian novel.
The films were judged by a panel of faculty members associated with the Film and Media Studies Program. First, -second, and -third place winners received cash prizes. The works were created in a variety of formats, including mini-DV, VHS, DVD, and CD-R. Films receiving honorable mention were also screened at the festival.
The program has expanded and is now called the Film and Media Studies Program and has two major tracks: film studies with a non-production emphasis and media studies with a production emphasis. A minor is also available. The program also administers a graduate student fellowship at the George Eastman House. The interdepartmental faculty of the Film and Media Studies Program is also a primary resource for the new collaborative master's degree program between the University's Department of English and the George Eastman House, The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation. For more information about the program, visit www.rochester.edu/College/FMS/.