AUP students enjoying an evening picnic at the Seine river.

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Student Film Festival

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On May 2, 2017, the annual AUP Student Film Festival showcased the latest short films from AUP’s undergraduate and graduate filmmakers. It also served as a demonstration of the AUP Film Program’s expansion of its production classes, with courses like “Directing the Fiction Film” and “Making a Documentary” giving students even more opportunities to hone their skills. “I was extremely impressed with the quality of the films,” noted Professor Alice Craven. This year’s installment presented eleven short films: String by Riki Davis; Skate for Life by Cody Noble; Prayers for Safe Travel by Madison Toy; Looking to Art by Faith Toran; Three Generations by Farah Hayat; Portraits of Women by Annamaria Deganutti; Light Entering a Bullet Hole by Leyla Halabi; One Last Thing by Lyzbeth Lara; Shots Fired by Sarah Guillaumin Haddad; Livraison de la Liberté by Korinah Sodahlon; and Concrete Currents by Dakota Matthews.

For Professor Marie Regan, the festival’s primary goal is to celebrate the hard work that each student puts into their creation. “Making films is time-intensive, from conception, to shooting, to hours spent in the edit room and it’s wonderful to have a moment in which to deliver them to the world.” Riki Davis experienced those production challenges firsthand while making her own film, centered around a young woman living in Paris, who in the face of sexual harassment starts to find red string growing out of her clothing, which threatens to overwhelm her. “Production was insane,” explains Davis, “because I needed so many scenes and shots and actors. I had a few different people on boom, but if it was even a little difficult to get crew, I just did it myself.” For Cody Noble, whose documentary follows a skateboarder (Judson Vandertoll) and a roller skater (Noble) on their journeys through Paris, the first challenge was coming up with the premise. “This is my first time living in a major metropolitan area and I was surprised by how many people skateboarded here. I wanted to do something with that but for a long while, I was stuck on how.”

It was important for both Davis and Noble to be able to share the work that they’d developed in class. Noble explains, “I had never had my work submitted to a festival before and I was nervous: it was like being open with people whom I’d never met.” Both were encouraged by the audience’s reaction as well as their own. “I hadn’t watched my film since I finished the final edit,” Davis notes, “and even then I didn’t watch it all the way through. I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself. It wasn’t perfect but I think it was a really good student film and I’m proud of that.” She also emphasizes the importance of having an audience. “It’s so important for the student body to see what we make and it was fantastic to see so many people coming together to watch our films.”

This year’s student films not only reflect the enrichment of AUP’s Film Program, but also the unique, international perspectives of AUP students as they explore the world around them through fiction and documentary film. As Professor Regan puts it, “Film is a product of culture, time, and ideas, and our student films are no exception. In a world that is increasingly expressed in moving images, the skills our students develop at AUP in using film to ask questions are powerful ones to take into the world.” The AUP library will be archiving the films if you missed the festival this year, but make sure to save the date for next May to see all of next year’s films!