The M-agination Film Festival this year was, as always, long and full of many varied and excellent student films. Instead of reviewing all 15 films shown at the festival, I will select a few highlights.
Cereal Theft: What begins as a classic noir-inspired student film ends in a refreshing twist. No student film festival is complete without a pseudo-noir, and though usually these films are basic parodies, Cereal Theft manages to set itself apart from the crowd–if only because of the last ten seconds.
Dana: An unusual addition this year was Dana, a min-documentary about Dana Greene who kneeled in the Diag for 20 hours back in September. While this documentary does a good job at capturing the moment, it is unfortunately rather underwhelming. Viewers receive some additional information about Dana and his motivations, but it does not feel like there is enough there to justify the documentary–if you read the original letter and passed through the Diag on that day, this documentary won’t give you much more information. Still, it is nice to have this record for future generations.
Vine Addicts Anonymous: This film centers on an AA style support group for individuals addicted to vines. During the movie, the afflicted individuals tell their stories of vine degeneracy while the referenced vines are played. As someone who has never been much into the vine scene, I still found this short funny, though it was certainly carried by its actors.
Not Delivery: The story is simple: two stoned college students on a mission to get frozen pizza from a local liquor store. There isn’t a crazy twist or strange occurrence, just weed, pizza, and paranoia. It’s classic college. Funny, good-natured, and a decent PSA about the dangers of buying food when stoned. Enough said.
Planet Earth: Endangered Species Special: No student film festival is complete without a mockumentary and this year was no exception. This Planet Earth spoofed centered around the plight of pubic crabs, which face extinction (this is actually true). It’s a bit uneven and some scenes feel unnecessary or repetitive, but the concept is solid and they land a few good jokes now and then. Overall, a cute short.
Settle for Nothing: Now, this film was refreshing. I haven’t seen a student film tackle heists movies before, and Settle for Nothing not only pays homage to our favorite aspects of heist films, but does so in a way that feels very college. The plot revolves around three guys on a mission to retrieve a Settlers of Catan game from a vindictive roommate’s home. In the course of this short film, they face various setbacks and come dangerously close to being caught–the tension is mild, but there, and the film focuses on humor more than seriousness. Still, it’s pretty enjoyable.
Home Grown: The festival ended with a SAC Honors Thesis, Home Grown, which was the best film of the night. Home Grown is a pilot for a TV show centered on two queer persons as they return home after a failed stint in New York. Not only is it funny as fuck, but it also explores gender and relationships in a non-typical, non-trivializing way. Not to mention the high quality production that evidently went into this pilot–scenes are well shot and colors pop. Though it has a few rough patches, Home Grown almost feels like a real pilot for a TV show, and is far above the usual quality of student projects. Highly recommend watching this if/when it becomes available online.