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Centrally Isolated Film Festival opens Friday

April 4, 2016

When: April 8, 2016 reception at 4 p.m., festival at 4:30pm, 
              April 9, 2016 at 2:00pm

The backdrop of upstate New York is identical for all the student filmmakers, Centrally Isolated Film Festival undergraduate coordinator Alex Rehberg ’16 says. Everyone has the same lakes, the same trees, the same mountains to work with.

The way those filmmakers utilize that backdrop to tell their story, however, is unique and, frankly, kind of remarkable.

“Each filmmaker makes it different in their films,” Rehberg says. “There’s one film this year about a guy who is debating life, almost, by a lake and the use of water in that film is so much different than any other film I’ve seen yet. How they can use the same environment to make completely different films is amazing to me.”

In its third year, the Centrally Isolated Film Festival (April 8-9) has become an opportunity for student filmmakers from across the region to share their voice and passion. This year’s festival welcomes its widest range of submissions with films from Cornell, Ithaca College, Binghamton University, Colgate University, and SUNY Cortland, among others.

The festival functions as many do but Rehberg says the goal isn’t necessarily awards but instead showcasing work and building a sense of community among non-New York City student filmmakers. He wants to get like-minded people in the same room and foster a conversation that helps everyone involved.

“We feel that the filmmakers up here don’t necessarily have the same tools in terms of budgets that the New York City schools have,” Rehberg says. “So if I’m at Cornell and I don’t have a certain light for my shot and I can call up someone at (Ithaca College) who does, that saves me money time and it allows me to collaborate with other people.”

The festival also serves as a great reminder of what is possible for filmmakers without budgets. Seeing other student filmmakers produce excellent films and use their creativity to overcome a lack of money, can be inspiring.

Rehberg cited one entry from last year’s festival, a film named Pluto that had a set made almost entirely from cardboard, as a great example of creative solutions to small budgets.

“It was this beautiful piece about love and space travel and so they really weren’t inhibited by the budget. They embraced the kitchiness of not having a budget,” Rehberg says. “Seeing the great works this weekend is what’s going to push you next year and beyond to truly make that great student film.”

A selection of films will be screened Friday ending with an audience choice award voted on by attendees. On Saturday, films will be discussed by the panel of three judges with awards given out for experimental, narrative, and documentary categories.

Rehberg says this year’s group of entries is particularly mature and upbeat, with a strong pool of experimental movies.

“Student films in general tend to be a little darker and a little angstier, emotional,” Rehberg says. “But I think that this year strays away from that a little bit in that there are a lot more reflective pieces, really contemplating emotion rather than projecting it.”

This year’s festival was largely organized by students, Rehberg says. PMA faculty members  Austin Bunn and Chelsea R. Wessels offered guidance but gave student organizers Rehberg, Danielle Aviv ’16, and Kriszta Pozsonyi ’19 freedom to mold it to fit the goal of community building among student filmmakers.

“It has a lot of stresses that come with it but this film festival is truly one of the most rewarding things I’ve worked on at Cornell,” Rehberg says. “It’s been a long journey and we’re excited to have all the films and filmmakers being presented on Friday and Saturday.”

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