You know, I sometimes can’t believe how I take being on a campus with so many intelligent and creative people for granted. Although I was aware of the Notre Dame Student Film Festival put on by the university’s Film, Television, and Theatre Department last weekend, I wasn’t expecting to go until 6:30 pm on Sunday — half an hour before the final showing of this semester’s student films. While I hastily changed out of my trademark t-shirt and athletic shorts to look somewhat presentable and speed walked like there was no tomorrow, I am unbelievably grateful to my roommate for asking me to go with her in the first place.
Taking place over the first weekend of May, this semester’s student film festival was called the “2021 Notre Dame Student Film Festival: Quarantined!”. Just as the title alludes to, many of the films focused around the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Notre Dame’s students. The types of films ranged from documentaries to horror movies to animations. Scott Kiley ended up winning the “Audience Choice” award for his film “Scott- no relation,” which focused on trying to succeed at stand-up comedy during the pandemic. While there were a lot of amazing films at the festival, I have to admit — “Scott- no relation” was pretty funny.
Still, “Scott- no relation” wasn’t the only one to make me laugh. “The Dating Class” was another great film by Lizzie Todd and JD Carney that documented the awkward nature of the dates students go on for extra credit for Notre Dame’s “Nuptial Mystery” class. Parker Jochum’s “Supply and Demand” was another fan favorite for hilariously reminding us all of how hard it was to find toilet paper last year.
However, not all of the films portrayed the past year in a lighthearted manner. Many of the films focused on the isolation and stress that has come hand-in-hand with the pandemic, and some of these films were very moving. Personally, Michael Enright and Grace Akin’s “Alone Together” film on how many Notre Dame students are in need of mental health resources during this time and shedding light on how hard it is to talk about our mental health was very emotional and striking.
As someone with a brother who enjoys making animations and art, I very much appreciated the animation films in the film festival. While there were only two, I can only imagine how much time it took to create each of them, and I tip my hat to the students who created a story with so many technological moving parts.
You might be wondering what my favorite film from the Student Film Festival was. Well, I’ll tell you. I appreciate every film that was put on-screen — each of them were demonstrations of their creators creative insights into the world during the pandemic. However, as someone who was very close with a long-time usher here at Notre Dame, my favorite was Joel Mandell and Laila Ibrahim’s film “Gatekeeper.” Shedding light on the ushers who attend Notre Dame athletic games and showcasing how much they love the community they keep returning to help out honestly moved me to tears.
That’s the beauty of student films. Every student creates a film that is able to relate to someone, because we all relate to each other in some ways. You never know what you’re going to see when you look at other people’s thoughts and feelings coming to fruition in their artwork, so I encourage all of you to attend the next Student Film Festival!