Saturday was a day of fleeting film for me, the Wisconsin Student Short Films screening in the evening the third collection of quick hits that I viewed over the course of about six hours. This set of films mostly featured the creations of students of Wisconsin colleges and universities along with a couple of state residents going to school beyond its borders.
This collection of shorts screening at Monona Terrace was weighted pretty heavily towards the abstract and experimental, particularly of the visual variety. In fact, among the eleven entries,there was only one documentary -- JFK: Dumpman/Twineman -- and two structured as a direct narratives; a crowd pleasing pair titled Buzzsaw and the Pinmonkey. This latter film was also the longest, clocking in at 16 quickly passing minutes.
Filmed in Oshkosh, this macabre tale of one-way love was awarded the Best Wisconsin Student Narrative Short Film for the festival. There were also three other entries in the screening that were officially honored. One was The Bird of Night, a minute-long look at a winter phantasm that was awarded Best Wisconsin Student Short Film. Another was The Long Shadow, an animation and live-action combo that was both inspired by and exploring the persistent power of memories. And then there was Me and Jean Pierre, a story of friendship won and lost that was given a Special Jury Prize.
I also personally found the stop motion claymation of Skeletonizer and the anatomical exploration of Meniere's Disease particularly interesting. All of the films, though, succeeded at capturing and holding my attention.
A complete listing of the shorts follows in the order of their screening:
- Me and Jean Pierre by Anna Krutzik
- Corners by Daron Nealis
- Bloom by Dave Kiehl
- Carrotlegs by Rachel Mulder
- JFK: Dumpman/Twineman by Dave Resha
- Meniere's Disease by Jason Williams
- The Long Shadow by Chele Isaac
- Untitled by Kipp Zavada
- Pinmonkey by Timothy Ziegler
- Black Box by Joe Sacco
- The Bird of Night by Alan Schoenburg
- Skeletonizer by Caroline Kastelic
- Buzzsaw by Luke Brown
There were also three other student films selected for the festival as part of this collection, but programmed for other screenings. They are:
- Kyoko Naturally by Chris Thompson
- Coconut by Chris Hoag
- Made With Love: A Story of Emergency Communities by Madison Tift and Raad Fadaak.
What really made this screening work was the productive question and answer session at its close, one of the liveliest I have seen so far in the festival. Nine of the student filmmakers were present, and there were plenty of the questions from the audience. As the session concluded, each filmmaker described the origins and inspiration for their works, whether they were made for a class (many) or simply as a stand-alone project.
Viewing these movies created early in the life-cycle of filmmakers added an important element to the festival, one that is all to often forgotten; everybody starts somewhere.