The Short Circuit: 2015 GSU Student Film Festival Jury Selections Screen at the High Museum of Art

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GSUFF sign outside the Hill Auditorium.

Last Thursday, twelve jury selected student films screened at the annual GSU Student Film Festival (GSUFF) at the renowned High Museum of Art. These films were selected from over sixty submitted works produced in Georgia State University media production courses during the past academic year. Yours truly was in attendance to give you a look into a night of exciting student films.

A wide variety of works were represented throughout the night, with films ranging from documentaries on music and dance to stop motion animation and experimental films. Parents seem to be an inspiration among this year’s filmmakers with films such as “Dad,” “Mom,” and “Emilio” portraying the struggles and lives of caregivers. While some films stood out through breathtaking cinematography and film editing, others got lost in the crowd. But as a whole, I was thoroughly impressed with the programming of the night.

Following the screening of all 12 jury selected films, a short awards ceremony was held to honor the most exceptional films of the night. Atlanta Film Festival’s Creative Director, Kristy Breneman, and Atlanta-based film director and author Bret Wood served on this year’s jury. Both were present to award the following filmmakers and their films:

  • Best Documentary Film – “Paul Stevens: Unconventionality” by Joey Kopanski
  • Best Fiction Film – “Emilio” by Daniel Comacho
  • Best Experimental Film – “The Life of a Photograph” by Sarah Woods
  • Special Jury Selection – “Bugeye” by Nicole Vidal 
The 2015 GSUFF Jury Members and Award Winners (left to right): Bret Wood,
Nicole Vidal, Joey Kopanski, Daniel Comacho, Sarah Woods, Kristy Brenneman

and GSUFF Director/GSU Professor Daniel Robin.
All award winners were well-deserved. Specifically, Kopanski’s best documentary award-winning “Paul Stevens: Unconventionality” was my absolute favorite film of the night. The documentary showcased an unconventional musician, finding music through sounds found in nature or made through unique household objects. In addition to the enthralling subject matter, “Paul Stevens” had the best cinematography of all films that screened that night. Some of the shots were truly beautiful and well constructed.

If there was one snub of the night, it would most definitely be for Chuck Ballard’s stop-motion animation, “For the Byrds into the Wild.” For anyone not familiar with stop motion animation, each frame of the film is individually photographed by the filmmaker to physically manipulate the characters in the scene. A few seconds of film can take days to produce. Not only was Ballard’s film well-made, it was the longest one of the night with a total runtime of nearly 14 minutes. I can only imagine the work and skill that went into it. Though the storyline of the film is pretty cliché (2 boys disobey their uncle and get lost in the woods during a camping trip), the masterful lighting and the creativity behind the animation is well worth mentioning.  

My favorite film of the night: Joey Kopanski’s “Paul Stevens: Unconventionality.”

I greatly enjoy all types of films, but student films in particular fascinate me. With limited experience and low production budgets, student filmmakers must rely on their creativity and ambition to produce their works. This is what makes them so commendable. Yes, student films are flawed, but there is so much potential in them. You can see the filmmaker’s earliest works, just as their style and voice are being developed and honed; they are at the precipice of their filmmaking careers. It’s truly an exceptional thing to witness and I am thrilled to have viewed so many wonderful student films at the 2015 GSUFF. All filmmakers were undoubtedly talented and truly promising. Hopefully we will see some of these filmmakers’ works programmed into one of Georgia’s many film festivals in the near future.

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