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Fall Film Festival Brings Students’ Works to the Big Screen

By Joseph D'Andrea

On Dec. 13, Adelphi’s Communications Department held their annual Fall Film Festival, featuring the short films of students. Ranging from fictional horror and comedy films to documentaries, the festival, which began in 1970 and takes place each semester, displayed the diverse talents of Adelphi’s students, with some walking away with awards.

Professor Joan Stein Schimke, an organizer and speaker for the event, has been teaching courses in the Communications Department for 18 years, including Film and Video Production, Writing the Short Screenplay, Film Aesthetics and Film History.

“The festival provides the students a venue to share their work with friends, classmates and the larger Adelphi community,” Stein Schimke said. “There is nothing like having your film screened in front of an audience. There is something magical about the shared experience of watching a film in a room full of people, whether it's hearing the crowd laugh together at comedic moments, or gasp in surprise or anticipation.”

For students, the festival not only allows them an opportunity to showcase an idea of their own, but also gives them the experience of working with a team, an essential aspect of making films.

Adelphi’s Communications Department students line up on stage following the screening of their short films. (Photo by Joseph D'Andrea).

“The festival also inspires the students to collaborate on film and video projects, and challenges them to produce fun and meaningful work,” Stein Schimke continued. “We really try to foster that creative collaboration and create an environment where the students can develop friendships and working relationships that last well after they graduate from Adelphi.”

Speaking on the selection process for the festival itself, Stein Schimke said, “The first panel is usually composed of professors from the department and sometimes other departments and they choose from the films submitted to the festival to determine which ones will get in.”

In regards to the accolades given out after the screening, she continued, “For the second panel, we like to bring in alumni who have either had films in the festival or are working in the field. [They come] to the festival to watch the films and give out awards.”

The awards given out at this past Fall Festival included Best Editing awarded to Olivia Reid and Bethany Goodwin for “Take Two: Reclaiming Queer Adolescence in Adulthood;” Best Documentary to Peter Fudge for “The Last Farm in Queens;” Audience Choice to Jade McClinton-Dorley’s “Huggies;” and Jonathan Bauman and Emilia Matarrese took home Best Narrative for their film “Sunday.”

McClinton-Dorley, a senior communications major and “Huggies” writer, director and editor, spoke on the positive response her film received by the audience, who were laughing along with the short film as it was screened.

“Going into the Fall Film Festival, I was really excited to see everyone's submissions because I know our department is very talented, and I heard a lot of buzz about the amazing stories people put into the festival, so I was very excited to see it all on the big screen,” said McClinton-Dorley. “I didn't expect the turnout to be so massive. When the audience is silent, there’s no way for me to know if they like or hate the film until after the festival, so I was really happy the audience had a positive reaction to my film and some of the others.”

Reid, a sophomore communications major concentrating in digital production with a minor in theater tech, is one half of the documentary short film “Take Two: Reclaiming Queer Adolescence in Adulthood.”

“This was the first time that I’ve submitted to the Film Festival, so I was really excited to see my work on screen,” Reid said. “There’s a certain adrenaline rush that comes with allowing other people to see something that you’ve put a lot of work into. Working with my partner Bethany and the people we interviewed was the most gratifying part of making the film. Particularly since we were making a documentary, we had some really incredible conversations, and unfortunately so much of what was said couldn’t make it in the final cut, but I really loved being able to get so personal with all of our participants.”

Bauman and Matarrese, Best Narrative recipients for “Sunday,” both spoke of their excitement regarding the festival and being able to screen their work in front of an audience.

Bauman, a sophomore communications major concentrating in media production and cinema studies with a minor in graphic design, said that he joined the Communication Department because he wanted to learn how to turn his imagination into reality.

“Working with friends and colleagues like Emmy [Matarrese], Noah and Nina makes all the difference when you are trying to convey a message through film,” he said. “If I had to make all of my films on my own, they would not achieve the quality, standards or appeal that I strive to achieve. The most exciting part about the film festival was being able to witness the creative process from my colleagues and strangers, as well as being able to share my ideas on the big screen for everyone watching to enjoy, be inspired or feel motivated by.”

Matarrese, a third-year communications major concentrating on digital production and cinema, said, “For as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to pursue a profession in the film industry. When I first heard about the festival at the beginning of the semester, I knew I wanted to film something to submit. I had several ideas for a short film but ultimately decided on ‘Sunday.’ Watching all of the other submissions in the Olmstead Theater was a lot of fun, too; I enjoyed seeing what my peers and classmates had been working on during the semester. It was so much fun and I could not have done it without my amazing actors and brilliant director of photography, Jonathan Bauman. Because directing is my long-term dream, it was truly riveting to get a taste of what my future career holds. Film is all about teamwork and that fact was abundantly evident while filming. The actors were extremely cooperative and creative and John always brought wonderful ideas to the table. Though the days of filming were long and tiring, it was overall a great experience and I cannot wait to do it again.”

Responding to what their futures may have in store for them, both Bauman and Matarrese expressed a desire to pursue a career in the arts.

“In the future,” Bauman said, “I have plans on pursuing a job as an editor, director of photography, or camera/gimbal operator. At the current moment I am freelancing to local businesses to build my portfolio of films and short-form video content.”

Matarrese responded optimistically, but realistically, saying, “After graduation, I see myself working in some sort of writer’s room until I can make my way up to where I want to be. I do not plan on ever stopping no matter how high I climb the ladder. I will enjoy the fruits of my labor but I do not see myself stopping at any one profession, if that makes sense. Whether I start on a television set, writers’ room or as a director’s intern, I plan on succeeding in the notoriously difficult film industry.”

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