Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 28
 
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
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Library’s Student Film and Video Festival to Showcase a Variety of Young Talent

Dilshanie Perera

Now in its sixth year, the Princeton Student Film and Video Festival will be held at the Princeton Public Library on July 22 and 23, beginning both nights at 7 p.m.

The festival features a broad array of pieces, ranging from lighthearted claymation to poignant documentary to comedic shorts. While all the filmmakers are either in high school, college, or younger than 24 years old, the festival showcases everything from beginning work to highly polished videos, all of which tell engaging stories.

Kicking off the festivities next Wednesday is Princeton High School student Asela Perez’s Stella’s Audition, in which the title character is encouraged to try out for the a cappella group at her high school, while a rival plots a way to upset her audition. Current PHS students and former graduates are sure to recognize some familiar hallways in the footage.

Next up is a visually engaging, and meticulously crafted claymation entitled Give the Dog a Bone made by Brenden Cicoria and Ed Kelley, whose other collaboration, Fresh Fruit, screened at last year’s festival, and won the Best High School Film at the Flint Film Festival, as well as the Special Jury Award at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Both filmmakers plan to continue their studies in film this fall, with Mr. Cicoria attending the Rhode Island School of Design, and Mr. Kelley attending Princeton University.

Of the 18 movies that will be shown, two are documentaries, and both will be screened on the first day. There were over 100 submissions to the festival this year.

St. Mark’s Place presents a lively picture of its title neighborhood in New York City. Typeface and text are used to good effect in the short, with the unusual signage, notations, and graffiti that characterizes the area captured on film. The on-the-street interviews are charming, including a talk with Jimmy Webb of Trash and Vaudeville, a store supplying punk rockers with necessary garb and accoutrement since the 70s.

Thirty-two by Janet Weinstein takes a serious look at the Virginia Tech massacre, exploring two student movements that emerged in the wake of the tragedy, one of which advocates safer gun laws, and the other arguing for the ability to carry concealed weapons on campus.

The first day of the festival closes with work by two PHS graduates. Decomposition by Eddie Carson tracks the effect of isolation on his protagonist, while Spark by Brendan Dean is a comedy. Both have had films screened in previous iterations of the Princeton Student Film and Video Festival.

Day two presents an equally lively assortment of moving pictures. Brothers and Princeton residents Charlie and Warren Heller showcase Bongos, a humorous piece involving a stolen pair of bongos, a few chase sequences, and a fight montage. Since the film was shot in Princeton, the viewer will recognize some of the background scenery; the blooper reel at the end of the short complements the movie nicely.

East Side High School student Joao Tarouco of Newark has two videos showing on the second day of the festival. The first, Pwn3d by a Math Test, could be a claymation public service announcement for why you should study and not play video games, the second, Ferium 8, is a science fiction thriller shot entirely on a green screen with sets made using 3D CGI animation.

Film festival organizer and Teen Librarian Susan Conlon mentioned that the event always closes with a comedy, and this year’s choice is a beautifully made piece written and directed by Kevin Acevedo called The Last Page, in which a screenwriter struggles to pin down the perfect last line to his masterpiece. Various hijinks ensue when the main character leaves his home to buy a cup of coffee.

The Last Page emerged out of Mr. Acevedo’s thesis film project at Chapman University, which began as a very different kind of drama. “I read the script ad nauseam and started to develop cold feet,” he admitted, adding that he wanted to tell a more personal story, namely a “self-referential character study about a guy trying to write his own thesis film,” which was “inspired by my own creative block.”

“I wrote myriad scripts, and almost lost the support of my school and crew. Finally, I locked myself in a room and wrote. I focused on making fun of myself, and the quest to find a perfect story,” he said. Mr. Acevedo’s own quest proves to be quite successful. He is currently writing a feature screenplay, but is “itching to direct again.”

Admission to the Princeton Student Film and Video Festival is free, and screenings are intended for a teen and adult audience. Treats courtesy of the Bent Spoon will be provided.

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