Northwestern Student Film Festival

It’s become a time-honored tradition here at the Block. In late April students stop by the Museum to drop off their submissions for the Annual Northwestern Student Film Festival, organized each year by Block Cinema.

The films selected for screening in this year’s festival have now been chosen and the winners will be announced during the program on Friday, May 25. We spoke with Dave Sagehorn, Festival co-organizer, about the selection process and his impressions of this year’s entries.

What kinds of films can we expect to see Friday night?

We had a really strong turnout this year, both in terms of how many films were submitted and the high quality of the films. Many different genres and subjects are represented this year as well. We have documentaries, narratives, experimental films, animation, comedy, drama, and even horror.

How does the selection process work?

We had a student pre-screening committee that watched all the submitted films and selected which ones made the festival screening. The chosen films were then forwarded to the three-member judges panel, consisting of Northwestern faculty and members of the Chicago film community, for awards deliberation. This year’s judges are Penelope Bartlett, programmer for the Chicago International Film Festival, Christy LeMaster, director and programmer for the Nightingale Theater, and Jacob Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Radio/TV/Film.

What does this year’s crop tell us about filmmaking at Northwestern?

Again, I was struck by the variety and quality of the entries. These student films are anything but homogenous, and I would say the only thing they share in common is that they were made by Northwestern students and they are all impressive accomplishments in their own way. It’s exciting to see that the campus filmmaking community has such an array of interests represented, that students are able to figure out what excites them about film and pursue it. I would also add that the selection this year was very difficult—we saw many great films and unfortunately did not have room on the schedule for all of them. It is, of course, encouraging to see so much great work by Northwestern students; it made for a challenging decision process but will also make a great festival!

Dave Sagehorn is a PhD candidate in the Screen Cultures program in the Department of Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern. The Annual Northwestern Student Film Festival screening takes place at 7 pm on Friday, May 25. Admission is free. Visit the Block Cinema website for a list of this year’s selections.

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