Global student film festival returns to Northwestern

Erica Witte, Reporter

Alejandro Pallares had two tasks to accomplish the weekend before the Campus MovieFest deadline last year: do his laundry and make a movie. To save time he decided to do both tasks simultaneously.

Pallares, now a Medill senior and former Daily staffer, created a five-minute film in which he used stop-motion animation to depict a load of laundry washing, drying and folding itself. The movie won Campus Best Picture and was shown at a Hollywood screening June 2013.

“I had zero expectations submitting it,” Pallares said. “On the day of the award ceremony, I was just shocked that I was nominated for anything.”

The idea for this global student film festival came from four Emory University students in 2001. The festival is now on its 13th annual world tour, with a stop at Northwestern for the third year in a row.

Like Pallares did last year, many students walked into Norris University Center this week to find an informational booth boasting prizes of up to $20,000 in cash, memberships to Adobe Creative Cloud, Hollywood pitch meetings and more, if students make a five-minute film in a week.

On Monday, participants were provided MacBook Pros, Panasonic HD cameras and Adobe Creative Cloud to aid in the creation of their films.

The aspiring filmmakers and fans will gather 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Harris Hall for the festival’s NU finale. All submitted shorts will be shown, and winners for categories including Best Drama and Best Comedy will be revealed.

Communication senior Matt Moynihan signed up for the festival because he said he enjoyed participating as an actor his freshman year. This year, Moynihan wrote and directed a five-minute short called “Steep,” which he described as both comedic and dramatic.

“A lot of the things we wanted to do, we couldn’t,” he said, referring to the implications of Sunday’s storm. “It’s a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.”

More than 40 students intended to participate, but only about 20 picked up the equipment, said Jodi Gilbert, promotions manager for Campus MovieFest. She said she expects about half of those students to actually submit films.

“They all think it’s easy to begin with,” Gilbert said. “But when once you start, it gets pretty hard.”

Those who were successful may find themselves walking the red carpet at the festival’s Hollywood screening in spring. The three-day festival, called CMF Hollywood, includes workshops, advance screenings and behind-the-scenes tours, culminating in an Oscars-style award ceremony for winners.

For Pallares it was an event that may have changed his course of study.

“When I signed up, I really had no clue what I was going to do,” Pallares said. “Now, I’m in the process of applying to graduate film programs.”

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Twitter: @ericawitte