July 12, 2017

Princeton Student Film Festival Has Local and International Entries

ASPIRING FILMMAKERS: “The Last Playboys,” directed by Luke Momo (son of local restauranteur Raoul Momo), is among the entries in the 2017 Princeton Student Film Festival, on screen at the Princeton Public Library July 19 and 20.

Everett Shen isn’t sure he wants to make filmmaking a career. But the rising Princeton High School senior, who will do an independent study in film next fall, has plenty to think about as he considers his future.

Mr. Shen is among 22 filmmakers showing their work at the upcoming Princeton Student Film Festival, screening at Princeton Public Library July 19 and 20. He also served on the selection committee, helping to decide which of the nearly 60 short films, culled by librarian Susan Conlon from nearly 150 submitted by young people across the globe, would be included in the annual gathering.

Genres in the festival include animation, comedy, drama, documentary, experimental, personal narrative, and thrillers. Several of the creative talents behind the films, which have titles ranging from Head Space and Scooby Blueberry — Strawberries to What Comes From a Swamp and History of the Princeton Garden Theatre, will be on hand to discuss their films.

“What’s really unique about this festival is that the filmmakers get a chance to talk,” said Mr. Shen, who will be one of them. “It’s great to be able to hear the process behind each of these films — from a technical aspect, and also what they had in mind. There is a real variety, a lot of creativity.”

Mr. Shen’s Kimmi on Worldliness is “kind of hard to describe,” he said. “It’s a collection of musings by Kimmi, who is a leopard gecko … the gecko’s opinions on different subjects. You can either take it seriously or look at it for fun. The whole idea is that the gecko is showing his perspective on life, through a voice-over.”

The festival is “a great chance for student filmmakers to show their work to a live, appreciative audience, to share their insight, and get valuable feedback,” Ms. Conlon said in a press release. “There is a strong emphasis on local filmmakers, and we also include films from other regions because youth benefit from viewing broad perspectives and filmmaking techniques as well as recognizing universal ideas. The films are inspired and imaginative and reflect the filmmakers’ commitment to developing their visual and technical craft and the art of good storytelling.”

In addition to directing his own film, Mr. Shen worked on two others in the festival. He edits the PHS film magazine, 151MM. Aaron Baseman, a student at Princeton Day School, directed History of the Princeton Garden Theatre, while PHS student Trevor Weng created 24 Hours After 3 PM.

International selections come from young filmmakers in South Africa, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. College students participating attend Rutgers University, Fordham University, SUNY Purchase, Montclair State University, Princeton University, Ithaca College, and elsewhere.

“This was my first time being on the judging panel, and I really enjoyed it,” said Mr. Shen, who attended last year’s festival. “I do a film magazine at school, and this was film reviewing at its purist. It was nice that there weren’t any pre-existing critical opinions.”

There were fewer documentaries this year. “One that really impressed me was Respectfully Tony, which is an interview with a man who had formerly been on death row, was released, and rebuilt his life,” said Mr. Shen. “I thought it was super genuine and moving.”

Screenings will begin at 6:30 both nights, and include an after party in the library’s cafe with refreshments provided by The Bent Spoon. Admission is free. The festival is geared toward teen and adult viewers. A selection of the films will be shown on September 28 at the Princeton Garden Theatre.

The library is at 65 Witherspoon Street. Visit www.princetonlibrary.org for more information.