Creators and festival attendees took to the red carpet and were greeted by paparazzi as they arrived at the second annual Black Bird Film Festival last Friday.
The festival consisted of the 336 Hour Film Competition, a special showing of alumni Julia Barnett-Tracy’s film “Chasing Grace” and five short films made by artists in the Department of Communication and Design Arts.
Cinema and media arts professor Jack Lugar started this event last year to give students an opportunity to celebrate their work in a big way. CAB joined the department this year, adding the 336 Hour Film Competition and to draw a larger audience.
“I believe that every school with a serious cinema and media arts program should have an outlet for students to display their work,” Lugar said. “You don’t make art in a vacuum—you make art to share and express, so the film festival was the obvious solution.”
Lugar hoped that the audience’s appreciation and applause would inspire the student participants to continue to develop their craft.
“I hope that the audience will benefit from another art form that they may not be exposed to often,” Lugar said. “We can go to an AMC theater and watch ‘Black Panther’ or ‘Thor’ and movies with big explosions, but smaller, simple, intimate stories don’t happen as often.”
When asked how this year’s event is different from last year’s, Lugar said that there is a broader array of films.
“This year we have five movies from the competition, an animation trailer, narrative shorts and a short documentary,” Lugar said.
Lugar said that each student brings something unique to the table, and every point of view has impressed him. He loves how each student embraces the art and does something different.
If he were to write a movie for the festival, Lugar said that it would probably be a middle-American romantic comedy. He has a background in sitcom television, including time as a writer for the television show “Wanda at Large.”
Students participating in the 336 Hour Film Competition were asked to create a film no longer than three minutes using only a smartphone. They also had to use sunglasses as a prop, incorporate an AU landmark and use a certain line and name in their film. Awards were given for the best use of each of the requirements and for best film.
Amalia Arms, a participant in the competition, shared that the process was really fun and that she put a lot of heart and soul into her film.
When asked what she learned, Arms said that she learned how to communicate effectively.
“As a director, I had to email everyone and communicate with them very clearly where and when we were meeting,” she said. “I also had to get them the materials they needed to be ready to film. It was a lot of leading and communicating.”
Arms said that some of her favorite filmmakers are Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan.
Nifemi Adejumobi, a cinema and media arts student, also participated in the film competition. She says that she’s always loved the idea of “being able to create another universe and take people out of their regular lives into a world of adventure.”
She said the hardest part and the part that took the longest was writing the script. “It was a very collaborative process, and we all worked together really well,” she said.
“I learned that it actually is possible to make a film,” she said. “I’ve always thought that it would have to be a huge budget production, but it’s not that at all. You just need a phone camera and a couple of friends. That was a good reminder for me.”
Adejumobi doesn’t have any favorite filmmakers, but she does have an aspect of movies that she loves.
“A movie for me has done its job when it has managed to make me forget about my own life and be involved in the lives of total strangers,” she said. “If I leave the theater and I’m thinking about it or singing the songs, I know it has inspired me. It’s really cool when a movie can literally change lives or change people’s views.”
After the films from the competition were shown, Julia Barnett-Tracy shared an introductory clip about her time at AU, and her film “Chasing Grace” was shown. It was her personal story about a little girl in a broken family who had to switch homes often. Barnett-Tracy was a director, writer and actress in the film.
Five films created by students and faculty in the Communication and Design Arts Department followed her film.
When the lights came back up, the audience applauded the diverse collection of work they had seen.
Josh Ekberg, a student and attendee, said that the event was entertaining, and the angles of the films were very interesting.
“My favorite movie was Carson Barteau’s ‘Whole Grain Fall,’” Ekberg said. “He had shown me that before, and I really love it.”
Ekberg encouraged people to attend the next Black Bird Film Festival.
“It’s really funny and just a good time watching a bunch of movies your friends have made,” he said.
Brenn Shipman, another student and attendee, said that she really enjoyed seeing the alumna’s film showcased in the festival.
“There was a red carpet,” Shipman said when asked why she would encourage people to come next year. “It was really cool to see stuff that my peers were doing, and it really felt like a high-fashion event.”