Homegrown Film Festival showcases talent of student filmmakers

Hushed crowds munched on trail mix and popcorn as the illuminated screen flickered across Sternberger Auditorium and brought the audience 17 student-produced films highlighting both the diversity and complexity of life in the Guilford Community.

The Homegrown Film Festival was created seven years ago and was created with the idea of fostering a film and filmmaking culture here at Guilford that was virtually non-existent when it began,” said junior Douglas Reyes-Ceron, an officer of the Guilford Film Society.

This year’s Homegrown Film Festival showcased the wide array of student talent present at Guilford and included a range of topics regarding Guilford community issues such as the use of prescription medications for ADD/ADHD by students in the film “Adderall Nights” by an Anonymous Student, controversy surrounding the allotment of “special scholarships” to student athletes in the film “Recruiting Leaders” by junior William Dobbins, the veil of mystery surrounding the Yachting Club in “The Yachting Club” by senior Nicholas Lowry, and the topic of safe sex as a way of starting conversations in “Have a Safe Sex Day” by first-year Sophia Rivera-Silverstein.  

The process of filmmaking for each student whose film was showcased at the Homegrown Film Festival presented unique challenges depending on their subject matter and previous filmmaking experience.

As any good filmmaker would tell you, your goal is trying to capture images that are both aesthetically pleasing and unique, that will grasp a viewers attention by creating an “awe-inspiring” effect and something people have yet to witness the way you’ve portrayed it,” said junior Zachary Kronisch, maker of the film “Bubbles.” “With ‘Bubbles’, I saw my housemate Daniel’s hobby fulfilling both these accomplishments and took advantage of the opportunity.”

The experiences of students in the process of filmmaking ranged from those encountering few challenges to those whose controversial subject matter raised more than a few eyebrows.

I was really inspired by (Stephen) Hayes and his work, and I was interested in interviewing him about his passion for art and sharing that with people,” said sophomore Taylor Hallett regarding his film “Stephen Hayes: Cash Crop.” “Editing the video was a fun experience, and thankfully I didn’t run into many obstacles.”

Beyond the process of filmmaking itself, the work of preparing for an event with the magnitude of the Homegrown Film Festival was a task on which the Guilford Film Society and Guilford Film Department spent much time and effort.

The day and date were chosen last semester, and we went through all the steps needed to secure the location, food, programs and films,” said Reyes-Ceron. “In getting the word out about the submission deadline and the festival itself, we went through as many channels as possible, including The Guilfordian, WQFS, The Buzz, The Beacon and the Guilford Home Page. Each of the films was received by our Advisor, Chad Phillips.”

The Film Society had some input on which films were appropriate to screen or not but ultimately, Chad had the final say,” said Reyes-Ceron. “He is relaxed in regards to the variety of films shown but expects a certain level of quality in order to have your film screened. Chad also kept in touch with the filmmakers in making sure their films would be completed in time for Homegrown.”

One issue raised by the distinctly Guilford focus of most the films is the question of whether or not the material discussed by the films contains messages which are universal or, rather, can only be understood within the context of the Guilford Community.

I think that sometimes why a lot of the films do end up being about Guilford is because this is the environment that the filmmakers are working in, and what better way to articulate a message or draw inspiration from a place that you live, work, socialize, etc,” said senior and Guilford Film Society Officer Polly Rittenberg.  

Community response to the Homegrown Film Festival was largely positive as indicated by the sizable crowds present for the screening of the films.

All I can say is thank you to everyone that came to this year’s Homegrown Film Festival,” said Reyes-Ceron. “It was a fantastic time and it made me so happy to see everyone enjoying themselves over some good food, films and supporting their fellow students.”

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