Student filmmakers debut at Roxie Theater

The fifth annual Festival of the Moving Image was shown at the Roxie Theater on 16th and Valencia streets, on Nov. 18, 2015. (Photo by Michaela Payne/ The Guardsman)
The fifth annual Festival of the Moving Image was shown at the Roxie Theater on 16th and Valencia streets, on Nov. 18, 2015. (Photo by Michaela Payne/The Guardsman)

By Michaela Payne/Copy Editor

Fledgling filmmakers from the cinema and broadcast media departments presented 31 short films and 12 public service announcements at the fifth annual Festival of the Moving Image at the Roxie Theater on 16th and Valencia streets, followed by an after-party and raffle in a nearby cafe.

The one-night festival on Nov. 18 featured two showcases of student work including documentaries, narratives and ad spots that promoted the festival, all made by City College students in the cinema department and the broadcast electronic media arts department.

Students from both departments, and others like a fashion and a business student, helped coordinate the annual event with lead student adviser Liberty Ingraham and Lise Swenson from the cinema department as faculty adviser. Instructor Mischa Antonich curated PSA submissions from the broadcast department.

Many collaborated to create a theme, promote, solicit donations to raffle, raise money, sell merchandise and staff the event and party, in addition to making the films.

“It’s a good learning experience for the students to figure out how to organize their own festival,” Swenson said, who was ill but attended the festival after dismissing herself from a hospital stay. “It was a team effort. It came out beautifully.”

“It’s a good learning experience for the students to figure out how to organize their own festival. It was a team effort. It came out beautifully.”

— Lise Swenson

Each 30-second PSA promoted the festival through creatively-edited footage using this year’s theme, “Press Forward, Don’t Rewind.” Some were made by Swenson’s digital film editing students, and students from any discipline are welcome to submit these.

“Not simply an allusion to film, the tagline is a nod to the continued and tenacious survival of City College and all publicly supported education,” the festival’s fundraising campaign stated.

A crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter raised $1,410 to entirely fund the festival, exceeding their $800 goal. The college does not contribute funding for the off-campus festival.

“Because much of the funds formerly allocated for public education have been cut, The Festival of the Moving Image relies on our annual Kickstarter campaign to make sure the night is truly fantastic and memorable!” the campaign website stated.

Swenson said attendance was low this year and ticket sales to the festival were too low to cover the theater’s overhead costs, but declined to state an exact number. “Even though we didn’t reach it this year — we have in past years — The Roxie very graciously let us fly,” Swenson said.

The independent theater is San Francisco’s oldest continually-operating theater, since 1909. “The Roxie is in line with our desires to foster independent and alternative work,” Swenson said.

Of the night’s 31 short films, City College student Barbara Munoz’s favorite was “Flashmob” by Kendra Gilpatrick, who followed an Oakland dance crew as they learned, rehearsed and performed the “Thriller” dance.

“I liked the ‘Flashmob’ because it’s about Michael Jackson — that sweetheart. Ladies dancing like him was so beautiful, so cool,” Munoz said, who is enrolled in the cinema department’s documentary filmmaking class. Another viewer, Luis Gutierrez, said he shed some tears of joy during that film.

City College student Tor Olson edited and was one of the camera operators on a short documentary film called “Fight or Flight.” Made by Lisa Weinzimer for advanced field production class about efforts to introduce rent control in Burlingame, the filmmaker and crew spent about a six weeks creating the eight-and-a-half-minute film.

“Really fast turnaround, which is how it’s supposed to be done. This is excellent preparation for the real world,” Olson said.

Caleb Quinn created special effects for his short narrative film “No Help,” and he also wrote, directed, edited and made music for the film over three semesters. He made the first scene in a sound for motion pictures class taught by Dan Olmsted, who has taught filmmaking courses at City College for more than a decade. Later, Quinn had a chance to complete the film while he was stuck indoors with an injury. “I was desperate to do anything,” he said.

“He did absolutely everything,” one of his co-stars, Danica Uskert, said — and that participating in the film helped lift her out of a series of hardships that occurred in her real life. “This film is special to me,” she said.

The first scene of Quinn’s film is available at

The audience appeared enraptured throughout most of the screenings.

At the Pork Store Café after-party following the screenings, festival organizers raffled off prizes donated by at least 17 local businesses that sponsored the festival, like gift certificates to restaurants, coffee shops, cleaners, a copy store, salons and a video rental store.

The annual Festival of the Moving Image each fall semester is followed by City Shorts student film festival in spring at the Ocean campus’ Diego Rivera Theater.

“Mischa (Antonich) is fantastic…but ultimately we (cinema) do most of the work,” Swenson said. “We have a really amazing cinema department that gives students real world experience and connects students to schools like USC, NYU and San Francisco State. We’re not a piddly piece of poo.”

This May will be the cinema department’s sixteenth time hosting the annual City Shorts festival.

“For me it’s a continuation of the work I’ve been doing in the community since the ’80s,” Swenson said, when she cofounded Artists Television Access on Valencia and 21st Streets. “We are trying to preserve alternative media here.”

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Send an email to: Michaela Payne


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