Film Festival in Pollak

Film enthusiasts, eager students and curious locals gathered in Pollak Theater for the 32 annual Black Maria Film Festival on April 4.

Chad Dell, chair of the communication department, opened the night with an Alfred Hitchcock-styled, “Good Evening.” He followed this with a brief introduction to the night’s agenda and his own take on the gathering. “I have enjoyed watching this festival for the past 17 years,” he said. “But I have more pleasure in bringing you the woman who brought it here 24 years ago.”

Donna Dolphin, professor of communication, stepped up to take the microphone and discuss the importance of the event, saying it was meant for “fiercely independent and experimental screen arts.” She went on to add, “I want you to understand, this is not an amateur festival. This is professional work. These are professional artists,” she stated. “We’ve even had work by Disney animators.”

This event celebrates independent film makers from all 50 states and Puerto Rico, granting awards for excellence in writing, directing, filming and animation. The festival had 32 movies this year, but only 10 were screened at the University’s portion of the tour.

Feral, a 13 minute animated film by Daniel Sousa, received a Juror’s Stellar Selection. It displayed the story of a young boy who grew up in the wild, but is found by a passing man from a nearby city and is brought back to civilized society.

Here and Away, a movie inspired by “Two Boys on a Country Road” by Franz Kafka, ran for 11 minutes. It was created by Meena Nanji and received a Juror’s Stellar Selection. It features two African boys going through their day, living simply but happily, in the end remarking that the wealthy but stressful lifestyle of the city dwelling folk is a foolish one.

Fanfare for Marching Band ran for 15.5 minutes, was done by Daniele Wilmouth and earned a Director’s Choice Selection. This musical montage showed a series of musicians and dancers performing their art in a world where everyone else had been frozen in place.

Bug People, a 15 minute film, was not for the squeamish. Directed by Paul Meyers and earning a Jurors’ Citation Selections, this particular feature focused on three professionals whose careers revolve around insects- an exterminator, a conservationalist, and a chef who uses them in her food.

Time Exposure, an 11 minute film by Alfred Guzzetti, earned a Director’s Choice Selection. It discussed a photograph Guzzetti’s father took over half a century ago and Guzzetti’s journey through his family history to understand where it was taken and how it changed his family.

Magnetic Reconnection ran for 12.5 minutes, was directed by Kyle Armstrong and received a Jurors’ Citation Selections. Featuring various scenes from the Canadian tundra, it explored the phenomena known as the Northern Lights and the scientific principles behind it.

Unchastened, a four minute presentation on the life of a dancer who was recovering from a partial mastectomy, was directed by Brynmore Williams and received a Jurors Citation Selection.

Shooting an Elephant, by William Noland, had a 14.5 minute running time and received a Director’s Choice Selection. This politically-oriented piece featured various scenes of people at Tea Party rallies while the party leaders spoke in the background, often featuring appeals to Christianity or the use of racial epithets.

Lionfish Delusion was a four minute, animated, neo-noir movie by Quique Rivera and received a Stella Animation award. It was designed to call attention to the plague of lionfish currently destroying reefs in the Caribbean Ocean.

Queen of the Night Aria ran for 3 minutes and was directed by Harry Hall. It won a Director’s Choice Selection. A female marionette figure (whose mouth was moved to the theme of “The Magic Flute” by Mozart), commanded her daughter to kill her soon-to-be ex-husband due to the stress of going through a bad divorce.

With this final showing, the screening ended, allowing the audience members to fill the theater with discussions of their favorite movies.

James Fanizzi, communication major, thought it was definitely worth his time to attend.

Fanizzi said, “There were three that really got me: Bug People, Magnetic Reconnection and Time Exposure. People put a lot of hard work into these and everyone enjoyed them,” he said. “I would definitely recommend that people come see this festival.”