PREVIEW: Lightworks Film Festival Winter 2015

Lightworks is Back! Do you enjoy watching movies?

Looking for a break between exams? Come to Lightworks!

The Lightworks Festival is a showcase of Screen Arts & Cultures’ student films. Presented by SAC’s student organization FVSA (Film and Video Student Association), the Lightworks Festival is the venue for students to present their end-of-the-year production coursework to classmates, family, and friends of Screen Arts.

Even cooler, this is your chance to see a variety of talented, visionary filmmakers before they make it big and you have to pay to see their work on the big screen.




Dates: Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25

Where: Angell Hall, Auditorium A

When: Friday, 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m; Saturday, 4:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.


REVIEW: Lightworks Fall 2014

In case you haven’t heard of this wonderful (and free) 2 day event, Lightworks is the biannual film fest that showcases student films made through the Screen Arts and Cultures (SAC) department.

That being said, the norm for student film fests goes something like: most films are not immaculate, and the quality can range from good to pretty awful. Fortunately for us, U of M students consistently churn out films that are at worst watchable, and at best better than many Hollywood films (that means you, Mike Bay).

You can’t have a film event without popcorn, and the hosting Film and Video Student Association (FVSA) was happy to oblige. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was the popcorn free, but it had just the right amount of flavoring to enjoy the array of films in the Natural Science Auditorium.

This year was Nicolas Cage themed, with his image, quotes, and movies in every nook and cranny. I thought it was a step in the right direction, as it provided comic relief to the festival and helped group the films into categories roughly based on the titles of Cage films.

Last semester was a particular good stretch of Lightworks films and this semester was able to keep up the pace. I was extremely happy to see that a couple of the 300 level films (intermediate production level) were able to keep up with the higher level films. In fact one of them, Jessie Micallef’s “Between the Lines” was runner-up for best drama.

Furthermore, the independent projects truly showcased what students can do with autonomy. The winner for best drama, and my personal favorite of the festival, was Anthony Khalil’s “Old Stones.” A fictional tale about a son trying to win his father’s favor by playing shuffleboard at a retirement home, it was quirky enough to be a fresh take on the banal sports film genre.

I think the best part about “Old Stones” however, was that it never tried to be some esoteric analysis of the human condition. Unlike a lot of the upper-level projects, “Old Stones” didn’t attempt to go unnecessarily deep in the father-son relationship, nor did it waste time exploring the lead character’s fall from grace as an Olympic curler. Oh, and did I mention the gorgeous color throughout the film? Check it out.

“Cold Cut Comedy Shorts” was basically a live-action Robot Chicken. It was a delightfully incomprehensible collection of random shorts that drew laughs from the audience. The only fault with this project is that, like Robot Chicken, I was left wanting more.

Below is the list of winners from the festival. I recommend the winners from each category. However, one that didn’t even make it onto the list was Brian Collins’ horror flick “Closet,” which I was shocked to see did not even make honorable mention.

Ligthworks Winners
Drama: Old Stones, Anthony Khalil
Runner-Up: Between the Lines, Jessie Micallef
Honorable Mention: Nonna, Sam Gioia
Comedy: Cold Cuts Comedy Shorts, Joe Biglin
Runner-Up: You Can’t Sit With Us, Emily Browning & Jamie Dean
Honorable Mention: A Little Time Away, David Olonoff
Experimental: Easy, Alex Holmes
Runner-Up: The Golden Apple, Andrea Rivera
Honorable Mention: Time Space, Yunzhi Ou
Alternative Narrative: I’m a Wicked Child, Jingru Yang
Runner-Up: Pace of Life, Yihong Chen
Honorable Mention: A Flower to Pick, Jeremy Borison
Animation: Little People, James Reslier-Wells
Runner-Up: Living on the Earth, Layne Austin Simescu
Honorable Mention: Copy Cat, Sam Barnett
Documentary: Cooley Reuse Project Teaser, Jennifer Larson
Runner-Up: SALT, Phillip Wachowiak
Mary Lou Honorable Mention: Unsocial Media, Al Smith
Feroz Honorable Mention: Meta, Charlotte Lichtman
Josh Honorable Mention: Candy Ball, Yunzhi Ou

PREVIEW: Lightworks Day 2

Where: Natural Science Auditorium

When: Today 4 pm – 12 pm

What: Student films made throughout the semester

Film range from narrative to experimental, silent to noisy, black and white to explosions of color.

Hosted by Chad and Riley of “The Secret Show” fame, today promises to be as good, if not better than yesterday’s festival.

A selection of what you will see:
Your Hosts

Bad Girls


REVIEW Lightworks Film Festival

As I mentioned in the preview, Lightworks is a biannual film festival put on by the Film Video Student Association (FVSA), showcasing works produced in students by Screen Arts and Cultures (SAC) production classes.

One warning to potential future festival-goers: dress up! I was lucky to be coming from an interview, so I walked into the Natural Science Auditorium in a shirt and tie thinking I would be out of place—only to be surrounded by sweater vests, make-up, and slacks. This is by no means Cannes or Sundance, but I was pleasantly surprised to see so many students dress up for the festival because, after all, it IS a film festival.

One more thing: arrive early! FVSA provides free popcorn, drinks, and other movie theater food to people that get there in time.

The biggest caveat for these kinds of film fests is that they are composed almost entirely of student films. While I was stunned to see such beautiful work from students in upper level production classes, there were also sub-par films scheduled into the program. By the same token, none of the films were universally terrible; one film’s audio problems ruined an otherwise good feature, a few films had questionable camera work that called attention to the operator rather than the images on the screen, and of course, instances of poor writing. Most importantly, these were the exceptions, rather than the rule to a wonderful (and free!) film festival right on campus.

I found out by the middle of the first evening that the programs passed out each night were terrible incorrect. What resulted was a roller coaster of films—some that were in the order of the program, and others arbitrarily sprinkled in or taken out. In one particular instance I was overjoyed to see a documentary about the homeless people living in Ann Arbor, but this came at the expense of a documentary about the Detroit music scene that never showed.

Many of the films are taken directly from the pages of college life. “Sublet” dealt with three college boys who sublet a room to a hot girl—hilarious and topical. “Quick Step to Columbus” followed the Ballroom Dance Team to the national championships in Ohio, and “The Great Escape” was about an attractive GSI who has to escape a frat house after accidentally sleeping with a frat brother. “College Town” was easily one of my favorites of the entire festival. Imagine the drama of Glee and High School Musical without anyone breaking out into song, mixed with a slightly more biting comedic feel, and you have “College Town.” Not only was the production value cinema-quality, but the writing and acting was spot-on.

Several films took the risky step of incorporating the fantastic into their storylines. After taking a few SAC classes myself, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to make anything other than a straightforward film set in reality. “Residual Dreams,” and “Grasp” were very different films with common themes of love and horror; these stood out because they truly pulled off the horror genre. “Cooking With the Stewarts”—based on the simple premise of a holiday special with several celebrity Stewarts, was absolutely hilarious.

Lightworks was just as good, if not better, than many previous film fests I have attended. No matter which film festival you attend, there will be a dichotomy of good and bad films, and the great festivals leave you with satisfaction. I came to Lightworks with few expectations of any kind, and after attending Fall 2013, I can say for certain that I will be back in the spring.

PREVIEW: Lightworks Film Festival

What: The Lightworks Film Festival

Who: U of M Students taking Screen Arts & Cultures (SAC) Media production classes that want to showcase their work!

Where: Natural Sciences Auditorium

When: Friday, December 13 7-10:30 PM &
Saturday, December 14, 7-11 PM

Cost: Free!

Michigan’s Film and Video Student Association (FVSA) puts on Lightworks each semester to show the products of films made in Screen Arts and Cultures classes. Movies will be shown in blocks, with every type of genre you can imagine: horror, documentary, sci-fi, and beyond!

The best part of all, the event is FREE!

Take a break from exam studying and check out Lightworks!

Here’s the Michigan Daily article:

Movie Screen at the Nat. Sci Auditorium
Movie Screen at the Nat. Sci Auditorium