Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


A film festival under the stars

Last year’s FAU Film Festival didn’t exactly earn a stellar review. This year, however, they have raised the bar. But why take my word for it?

First, I have been working in broadcast television for the past four years and have worked for three television networks, both local and national. I’ve also worked for OWL TV, FAU’s student-run television station, for two years, both as a behind-the-scenes technician and as an on-camera host.

In addition, OWL TV has aired some short films that I have produced. Although broadcasting is not the same as filmmaking, they do share some similarities — such as how shots are composed, how those shots are edited in postproduction, and how scripts are written.

Now that the Film Club is under the leadership of Peter Amirato, its new president, it has decided to showcase this year’s film festival by holding it out in the open at night, under the stars.


The review

Last year’s festival was held in the Performing Arts Building. This year, you could say the tables were turned. The festival was held in the middle of the Housing Lawn with a blowup projector set and portable audio.

Since it was outside, I was skeptical as to how good a job the Film Club could do rigging outdoor audio. I couldn’t hear the announcers describing each film because I chose to sit on the other side of the outside setup to review the films. This is an example of why a film festival should be in a theater designed for this stuff. Despite the many audio drops and even the screen deflating during playback, they still managed to have a full house, filling the 165 seats.

But why, oh why, would you have a film festival outside? Although I knew I was going to be sitting outside for three hours with mosquitoes biting my neck, I would have preferred to have been inside a dark theater with clear audio. While it may be a nice idea to have a festival outside, it is certainly not professional. Regrettably, I couldn’t clearly see the first two films because the sun had not set.


The films

Not totally bad this year. I had spoken to the Film Club’s president, Peter Amirato, who said that six out of the 10 films showcased were produced independently of the club. In addition, the Film Club commissioned judges that were not a part of the club, and had a professional relationship with the film industry. The judges were Stephen Charbonneau, Gerald Sim — both film professors at FAU — and Diego Rimoch, CEO of Living Room Theaters, the on-campus movie theater.

The four films that were made by the Film Club were much better than last year’s. But most films were group-collaborated with cheap shooting and acting. I do respect their editor, Ryan Chavez, whom I worked with at OWL TV. If Chavez directed more films, I’d probably attend these festivals more often.


Independent veteran films

The independent films were great. Two veteran directors from last year featured in this year’s festival were Dillan Cohen and Daniel Cardenas.

Cohen’s film Anywhere But Here was beautifully shot with a dramatic coming-of-age plot about four best friends afraid to grow up. If you’ve seen his previous film, The Wonderful World of Waking Up, you’ll instantly recognize the enormous usage of rack-focuses, which is the camera lens focusing through depth-of-field.

Daniel Cardenas has really stepped up his game from his last film, Black in Blue, which he shot last year in New York with cheap camera equipment. His film this year, Busca Vida, was shot with a Canon T2i in the Dominican Republic, which looked great and had a 30-minute-long storyline about his brother who tries to cope with poverty in the Dominican Republic.



On the day of the festival, Rimoch told Amirato he wants to feature the films exhibited this year in Living Room Theaters on campus. I’m waiting anxiously to see if this happens.

So if you missed this year’s festival, you may get the chance to see these films in a much better quality than exhibited at the festival.

Overall, this year’s festival was certainly an improvement over last year. However, for next year, do me a huge favor and please put it back inside this time!


Other films shown at the festival:

●      Buzzed, directed by Peter Amirato †

●      The Time Traveling John Adams, directed by Peter Amirato †

●      La Sacre Du Printemps, directed by Matthew Perez

●      Sketch, directed by Giancarlo Candida and Ammar Marimutu

●      Empty Pages, directed by Verner Maldonado

●      3600, directed by Jason Labrada

●      Roach, directed by Ryan Chavez †

●      Fixation, directed by Elizabeth Hodapp

† Denotes films that were produced by the FAU Film Club


Films that won the awards:

●      Best Film: Busca Vida

●      Best Director: Daniel Cardenas

●      Best Actor: Xavier Cardenas

●      Hooter’s Choice (Audience Choice): Busca Vida

●      Best Screenplay: Matthew Schlissel (Empty Pages)

●      Best Editing: Matthew Perez (La Sacre Du Printemps)

●      Best Actress: Gina Coviello (Anywhere But Here)

(All of the awards presented, excluding the Hooter’s Choice, were decided in advance by the judges commissioned by the Film Club.)

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