By Alex Reyes
The City College cinema department’s 14th annual City Shorts Student Film Festival will be held May 15 at the Ocean campus Diego Rivera Theatre.
The festival is a semester-long assignment of the cinema department’s film exhibition class. The class and members of the local film community will select the movie shorts that will be shown at this year’s festival. The festival organizers expect to sell out the 200-seat theatre.
The five-member class has posted a video preview of this year’s affair on a film festival Facebook page. The class has also successfully raised over $700 in a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help with festival expenses.
The festival is “a big feather in the hat for City College,” Film Exhibition student and director Max Stein commented on a Facebook page video posted by the class. “The festival shows what City College is made of, what kinds of students it produces, the quality of the education that the school has.”
Film exhibition class instructor Lise Swenson has now guided students through four City Shorts and four Moving Image festivals, which occur in the fall.
Swenson said at least a dozen of the films that have been shown at recent festivals have gone on to show at other local and regional festivals, with at least 10 of the 12 also appearing elsewhere throughout the country.
“There are tons of former City College cinema department students now working in the film industry,” Swenson said. “Over 65 students worked on my current film, ‘Sweetwater,’ which I’m now trying to sell.”
Film exhibition student Jasmine Nicholes places this year’s festival in the context of City College’s ongoing accreditation battle.
“‘Exposing the negative, projecting the positive’ is the theme for this year’s festival,” Nicholes said. “The student admission rate is down and we want to blast how positive everything is in the face of adversity. Everyone should be taking classes here. I mean, why not?”
Both Nicholes and fellow Film Exhibition student Gus Curtis appear on the festival’s Facebook page video. Curtis said that he enrolled at City College before moving to the United States.
“I’d heard and read a lot of reviews about how great it was,” he said. “I’ve been so impressed with the cinema department. … Lots of people who submit short stories are beginners. To me, it looks like they’ve been making movies for awhile.”
Curtis points to how City College film festivals such as City Shorts and each fall’s semester’s Festival of the Moving Image ties the school’s film students to the professional world.
“It’s important because it’s a really good stepping stone for putting filmmakers to actually showcase their wares in front of an audience of 200 people,” Curtis said. “ … City Shorts is a great place to network. There (are) so many people here connected to film industry professionals.”
For video director Stein, putting on the City Shorts Film Festival is all about promoting City College’s many strengths.
“The festival is important for the cinema department and the campus because it brings a lot of positive exposure to the school,” Stein said. “The festival does a lot for the students and community. … all the attendees get to have a great time, great experience. They get to see some of the best work, 12 to 15 films are curated, sometimes up to a hundred.”
A 6 p.m. reception featuring live music will kick off the festival. Screenings begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a short awards ceremony. The festival’s “suggested donation” is $3.