By Ilana van der Merwe, September 27 2023—
A night at the movies has the potential to be excruciatingly predictable but still persists in being an ever-entertaining activity. Popcorn, a limp paper straw and cliche movie previews; what more could a person want?
Student Film Festivals are an incredible way to break any movie watcher’s slum. With a variety of short, punchy and occasionally raunchy films, taking a night off to enjoy the work of local directors is incredibly rewarding. After recently attending NUTV’s Student Film Festival, I realized that sometimes the best kind of entertainment presents itself in genres you wouldn’t normally buy a ticket for. The following films are a selection of those that stood out to me most.
Juncture, directed by Samuel Lawrence through SAIT productions, was a thought-provoking short drama. With a run time of approximately five minutes, this film follows two sides of one story. While working in a small coffee shop, Grant ponders whether or not to reveal or repress his feelings for a coworker. From the moment he decides, the screen splits, and the audience is introduced to two alternate and opposing timelines. The visual effects, score and plot were perfectly integrated into the film’s concept: if not now, when? I would rewatch this film with the sole intention of analyzing each difference between the two storylines. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and believe the actors’ performance was equally relatable and realistic.
Pa’Fuera, directed by Tyler Gladue through SAIT productions, was a film that stuck with me all through the drive home. Oftentimes, documentaries need at least an hour and a half to investigate a social issue — but in less than thirteen minutes Pa’Fuera fully examined both the national and local perspectives on the 2002 Hugo Chavez Oil Company Workers’ Purge. This short film encapsulated both the effects of cultural isolation and immigration on Venezuelan Canadian families. As a first-generation Canadian, hearing the stories of all the participants was heartbreaking. This documentary is extremely endearing and shares an incredibly unique perspective that deserves to be heard.
Satire, irony, and a hilarious ensemble of sound effects are all elements for exceptional entertainment. Pool Dreams, directed by Jonas CJ Williams through NUTV, is a sarcastic caricature of the modern societal self-help media portrayed by infamous figures like Andrew Tate. This film executed an intense sociological analysis of the ‘success obsessed’ personality trope while keeping the atmosphere light and enjoyable. I loved this short. Ten minutes flew by as the audience laughed, chattered and lost themselves in the film. After the festival, the director revealed that the film originally had a far darker and more cynical ending but remarked that the simplicity of the ending presented in the final cut preserved the film’s authenticity.
Attending the annual Student Film Festival was an excellent experience as a University of Calgary student. Not only are local artists supporting local productions, but as a student, your local perspective provides the perfect audience for an aspiring director. This event was the epitome of escapism. I have never experienced a night at the movies as unique and entertaining as the one presented by NUTV.