REVIEW: M-agination Film Festival

At the M-agination annual film festival last Thursday, student filmmakers, actors, directors, producers, photographers, and composers truly impressed. M-agination, a student-run organization, allows students to spearhead their own creative projects, producing 8 short films a semester, 16 total every year, that are showcased at an annual film festival held at the Michigan Theater. For student filmmakers, it was an incredible success and a culmination of everything they have accomplished over the year. For the audience – family, friends, and just interested students – it was an amazing viewing experience. 

M-agination left no parts of the human condition untouched. There was love. There was sorrow. There was partying. There was death. There were mobsters who believe in astrology. Although you could definitely tell that the short films were being run by students, I was awed at the creativity of some of the concepts. The audience certainly was too. After every joke, there was roaring laughter; after every sad scene, hushed murmurs. And with several people leaving after every short film finished, it was clear that some people were there to support friends who had been working on this project for a whole year. 

My favorite show of the night was a hilarious and truly touching depiction of a man after a breakup. Directed by the star actor, this unfortunate soul consults a rabbi (a 19 year old rabbi) for advice on how to turn his life around. After being dumped, he had posted a nihilistic tweet online – only to get more than 100,000 views. Realizing that social media was turning him into a pessimistic, likes-obsessed person, he deleted his twitter account. Denouncing religion itself, he sets off to form a new life. For a student creator, it’s a giant achievement to create a short film that’s funny, sad, and sincere all at once. 

If I had one piece of advice for M-agination student filmmakers: don’t shoot your movies in an echoey room. If you absolutely must, turn on subtitles. Other than that, congratulations on yet another year of making movies and taking names.

REVIEW: ComCo Presents The Big Show

It takes a special kind of courage to get up on stage with no idea whatsoever what you’re going to do. Yet that is what ComCo members do, delivering an extraordinary and hilarious performance each time. Imagine practicing for a play, getting up on stage, and then realizing that you and everyone else in the show completely forgot their lines. Then imagine putting on an even better show than you were going to in the first place. 

I know that when I go to a ComCo show, everyone in the group is going to walk up on stage, looking all excited and confused, and I’m going to have a mini heart attack every time I think one of them doesn’t know what to say. I know that I’m going to go through all five stages of grief as I watch someone struggle as an awkward silence descends over the crowd. I know I’m going to consider leaving because I can’t stand the anticipation anymore. But I also know that at the end of the night, I’m going to be roaring with so much laughter I feel like I can’t breathe. That’s the beauty of improv: its epic highs and lows. 

According to their website, ComCo is the oldest improv troupe on the University of Michigan campus. I’ve been going to every one of their shows since freshman year (one time I went to the Midnight Book Club, another improv group, and then immediately after went to watch ComCo for two total performances), but I most look forward to a final show. Boasting a slighter fancier atmosphere in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, the final show has a bigger turnout and a more high-stakes atmosphere. It’s the culmination of the hours of practice I know ComCo members have been putting in throughout the year. 

Rather than getting right into it, they started the performance with a hilarious pre-shot video: improv has grievously been abolished in the United States, and ComCo members have been dispersed throughout the globe in hopes of starting a new life. But when one member remembers his tragic past, the hunt begins to track everyone down again. Together, members travel around the world – including a prison camp in Russia – to unite the troupe and put together the best show they ever have. 

And that’s exactly what they did. ComCo never fails to fill silence with laughter, awkwardness with comfort. With five of their key members graduating this year, I’m incredibly excited to see what amazing new improvers are going to join the troupe next year. If you didn’t make it to The Best Show this year, be on the lookout for the first show of ComCo’s season next fall. 


PREVIEW: M-agination Film Festival

Come join M-agination student filmmakers for a night of short films at the Michigan Theater this Thursday. As a premier student organization seeking to promote up-and-coming filmmakers, M-agination produces about 16 short films every year, 8 every semester, that are presented at the end of the year at Ann Arbor theaters. This Thursday will be M-agination’s 23rd annual film festival, marking 23 years of incredible achievements in the visual arts. In addition to free admission, there will also be free swag for anyone to pick up while it lasts! This is a great opportunity to see what your peers have been working on all year. 

Where: The Michigan Theater 

When: Thursday, April 20th. Doors open at 6 pm, show starts at 7 pm 

Tickets: free!

REVIEW: RC Review Open Mic + Release Party

What could possibly be better than a super friendly group of artsy students coming together to perform their art? Well – a super friendly group of artsy students coming together to perform their art, with Costco sheet cake. At Monday night’s RC Review open mic and release party, Residential College students enjoyed a sensory and culinary experience that topped off a year of amazing achievements. 

For the University of Michigan campus, the Residential College, located in East Quad, is an artistic hub for all students. Many incoming freshmen are attracted to the RC for its friendly atmosphere, access to arts classes (furniture making, photography, drawing, printmaking, etc.), and RC forums, RC-only “clubs” taken for credit. The RC Review, the RC’s premier literary magazine, is unrivaled in its compilation and publishing of RC student art made by students, for students. Having been part of the RC Review myself this year, I can truly say that it’s one of the best organizations I have been a part of in UM. You can take a break from the stress of frantically trying to meet academic deadlines, and settle down for an hour every Monday to simply collage with your friends. It’s a space to express yourself, laugh with your friends, and take things a little less seriously.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can submit your illustrations, poetry, prose, photography, or any other artistic piece to the magazine, where it will be reviewed and hopefully published. This year’s magazine – titled “Hot Hustler Magic” – is one of the longest and most robust in RC history. Coming in at 153 pages with more than 20 RC contributors, students will have no shortage of amazing art to flip through. Some of the highlights are a gorgeous photo from rural Virginia, a blackout poem focusing on reproductive rights in Michigan, a beautiful short story about family, death, and the passing of time, a colorful marker drawing of East Quad itself, an intricately bound book detailing Roman architecture, and a poem dedicated to a friend who passed away in Covid-19 isolation. The pieces are strikingly personal and lovingly put together in the magazine. 

At the open mic, RC students performed pieces both published in the magazine and not. For many graduating seniors, it was also their last chance to take part in a community that gave them a home in college, whether they were living in East Quad or not. The RC Review is, in my opinion, one of the best clubs on campus. If you’re an RC student who loves to make art, I would highly recommend joining next year.

PREVIEW: ComCo Presents, The Big Show

As the oldest improv group on the University of Michigan campus, ComCo always puts on an amazing show. Their last show of the year, The Big Show, is always the talk of the campus, and the auditorium is often completely sold out. For good reason – ComCo members are hilarious, and I’m consistently wowed by their ability to come up with funny, totally original content on the spot. With many members of ComCo’s troupe graduating this year, I would highly recommend buying tickets now for their last show of the year before it’s too late! 

When: Tuesday, April 18th at 8 p.m.

Where: Mendelssohn Theater 

Tickets: $5

Grab your tickets here


PREVIEW: RC Review Open Mic + Release Party

The Residential College Review is an RC forum that brings together RC students once a week to collage, make art, write poetry, read prose, and just have a good time. It’s an incredible way to find community in a huge university, and an incredible way to both submit art to a popular magazine and see art made by UM students. Once a year, the RC Review publishes an arts magazine, highlighting RC students’ greatest artistic products of the past year. Come join the club this Monday to pick up a free copy of the magazine, eat scones, and participate in the open mic!

When: Monday, April 17, 7-9 pm 

Where: East Quad Greene Lounge

Tickets: free!