Attention Columbians: The 25th annual CU Film Festival is fast approaching! So why not reward yourself for all that studying and check out some exciting student films?
The Arts Initiative asked Frieda Luk (Student Committee Coordinator, 2nd Year MFA Directing), Anna Gutto (Student Committee Member, First Year MFA, Directing/Writing), and Stian Hafstad (Student Committee Coordinator, 2nd Year MFA Directing) some questions about their work on the CU Film Festival Student Selects Committee.
Arts Initiative: How is the student selects committee formed? Is there a process by which students are chosen to be on the committee?
Frieda Luk: We put a call out to interested students and we choose two students from each year to participate in the committee . We try to create a selection committee that represents diverse points of view and is committed to the jury process.
AI: What are the criteria for selecting the films that you choose to feature in the student selects program?
Stian Hafstad: We select films based on certain categories, like ‘best film’, ‘best writing’, ‘best directing’ etc. So the films that get picked are basically the best of the best.
Anna Gutto: The best films. That simple. And that complicated, but with as dedicated a committee as we had, there’s no doubt we ended up with just that; the best films. The best films with a kick ass variety!
Frieda Luk: We choose films that we are passionate about, films that strike a chord with us. We carefully analyze the traditional aspects of film like the directing, editing, writing process, but we also choose films that we feel have something important and interesting to say.
AI: What is the most interesting part of serving on the student selects committee?
Stian Hafstad: Seeing such varied work is amazing.
Anna Gutto: To sit in a room and discuss film with 10 highly intelligent people – that catches my interest.
Frieda Luk: Seeing the diversity and the storytelling abilities of each filmmaker and being able to discuss the films with a room of intelligent peers is an opportunity second to none.
AI: Why is it important to have a selection committee of fellow students? Does your selection process vary from that of other committees?
Stian Hafstad: I think it’s always something special about recognition from your peers.
Anna Gutto: As students we come from a young perspective. That’s what makes the student selects particularly fun.
Frieda Luk: The student committee is important because of the diversity in voices represented in the current student body. Our deliberation process is thorough and we truly fight for films we believe in.
AI: How does the student selects event differ from other screening events? Is it specifically geared toward student audiences?
Stian Hafstad: It’s for the students by the students, so basically it’s one big celebration of the students’ work.
Anna Gutto: Chances are a student committee picks films that student audiences are more likely to have fun with.
Frieda Luk: Student selects is a really fun screening because it is basically like the voice of the next generation of filmmakers: this is what we like, and these are our stories. It is a big celebration of student work by the students.
AI: What are the perks of having a student selects film? Do these films get additional visibility or promotion?
Stian Hafstad: I’d say it’s a great honor. Especially since there are so many good films in the festival. For the films that get picked it’s basically your colleagues telling you that your film is amazing.
Frieda Luk: A student select film is a film that has gone through a thorough peer review and represents what we feel is outstanding. These are the films that we love. These films get a special screening, Student Selects night, and one of them will be on the Columbia University film festival DVD.
AI: What are some trends you’ve seen in this year’s films? Any major through lines in terms of styles, concepts or themes in the work?
Stian Hafstad: The student selects screening this year is a wonderful mix of everything from hysterically funny to hard-boiled drama. The only common factor seems to be that they are all very well made films! It’s basically a 2-hour gourmet film meal, and if you come out to see it you will not regret.
Anna Gutto: A great variety – that’s the fun of it. Especially inspiring is the amount of high level broadcast ready pilots and films that play with commercial genre while still maintaining strong integrity.
Frieda Luk: The diversity of genres and stories is incredible. There are dramas, science fiction, comedy, suspense. The way people are telling these stories is also indicative of the diversity of what comes out of Columbia. Student selects is basically the cream of a very very talented crop.
– Meropi Peponides, Theatre MFA 2013