Recollected by Emmett Goodman.
The judging for the annual ASIFA-East festival begins with student work. This year marks the festival’s 40th year and, as Dave Levy informed me later, there were more student films this year than ever before. As with any judging (I think), it gets tricky. There is a combination of great films, technically advanced students, average pieces, films that try too hard, or films sent into the wrong category by mistake. This year’s screenings were no different, there were just more films than usual.
Tuesday night’s screening was very disappointing, with the exception of only a handful of shorts. A lot of the films appeared to have the same style of jittery Flash characters with big fluffy eyes. Another thing I noticed was how many film tried using fade-out – fade-ins for dramatic effect. Some of these fades seemed to be over-doing it, and I felt that they were dragging the film on longer than necessary. In fact, I noticed Dave Levy, who announces the next film showing, getting up during a few fades, because they seemed like the end of the film.
The following does not reflect the opinion of all of ASIFA-East, but just that of the author of this article. There were a handful of films that stood out stylistically and story wise. Filmmakers who stood out in the program include Dan Mountain, Reg Schickel, Stephen Neary, Katherine Morris, and Zack Decktor. These filmmakers (and a few others I’m sure) each created works with distinctive identities. Of course, I mean that stylistically, but their stories were very funny, and complimented their respective film styles beautifully. Considering how repetitive the program seemed, these filmmakers happened to stand out sharply from the rest.
Let’s talk about calling “time.” If someone (a member that is) has seen enough of a particular film, they call time. If at least two people call time, that signals for the DVD to be stopped, and we move on to the next film. Having my own film called time on this year, I started hearing about how getting timed doesn’t throw you out of running right away. I admit that I lost all sense of logic for about two minutes after getting timed, and I just wanted to cry. But aside from those two minutes, I have to consider how many people in the jury have seen the film already. Not to mention that with the number of student films this year, and only a few hours in the theater, the films had to be rushed through.
I am very curious to see what gets selected for the festival in May, as I am sure many others are. Members keep voting, and if you can help it, try not to walk out early.