On Friday, May 28th, Campbell Hall will host the 19th Annual Reel Loud Film Festival, the longest-running film festival at UCSB. The show consists of thirteen student-produced short 16mm films with live musical accompaniment. Each film was made either independently or with the support of the Film and Media Studies Department’s Short Project Production class and selected for the festival by a committee of peers. Following the screenings, both the audience and a panel of industry professionals will cast their votes for the best film. This year’s theme is Wonderland, and it will be reflected in a pre-screening art show and tea party, where complimentary food and beverages will be served, as well as a silent auction and raffle.
With its exclusive emphasis on original silent films by university students all at the same campus, Reel Loud is one of the only festivals of its kind in the world. It began in 1991 as the brainchild of film students Chris Ball, Sandra Joy Lee, and Dave Cash, as they came to realize from film history classes that “silent” film was rarely actually silent. Before the mid-1920s, most movie patrons could expect to see films with live musical accompaniment, and in some cases, voice actors in front of or behind the screen, narrating or reading intertitles in character. But Reel Loud isn’t your great great grandmother’s silent film festival; it’s a revival of early film and vaudeville traditions with a modern sensibility.
The accompanying live performers are a diverse array of local talent. Some notable live acts from festivals past include Jack Johnson, the band that would become Dishwalla, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Nerf Herder. Breaking the fourth wall with zany stunts is par for the course. During the film Nuns of Summer, sixty people jumped on stage to dance with performers dressed as nuns. One year, a chainsaw-wielding psycho-killer stormed into Campbell Hall through the back door and chased a would-be victim. Another year, zombies flooded the stage to feast on delicious human flesh.
The film department’s academic adviser, Joe Palladino, is well aware of the higher costs and technical challenges that student filmmakers face when shooting on film, many for the first time. He asks students every year if they would prefer to switch to digital video, but “every year,” he says, “the students clamor for it to be shot on film.” So why, exactly, do the filmmakers continue to insist on shooting their projects on 16mm?
Matthew “Ace” Palanca directed last year’s Golden Reel winner, Lovesick Zombie, and is back this year with Magician’s Pride. He asserts that film “brings that certain cinematic quality, and actually shooting on film requires a level of discipline that can’t be matched by digital.” Orlando Giumarra-Duguay, director, writer, and co-cinematographer of this year’s Desert Gold, describes it as an homage to 1960s spaghetti westerns and says that “in order to appropriately mimic the visual aesthetic of those films, it is almost required that you shoot on film. I don’t think I could name a western that was shot on digital.” In an atmosphere where most student productions are shot digitally, film production offers some unique challenges, and makes for an equally singular festival experience.
The tea party and art gallery viewing begins at 6:30 pm, doors open at 7:30, and the show begins at 8:00. Tickets are now on sale for $10 at the AS ticket office and the Film and Media Department Office in SSMS, or $12 at the door.
19th Annual Reel Loud Film Festival Program
Opening act: Justin Ratowsky
Intermission act: The Fuxedos
Closing act: Black Velvet Sun
(“Public Face” in Japanese)
This looks into the minds of four people sitting at a bus stop, reminding us that we conduct ourselves quite differently in public than how we feel inside.
Writer/Directors: Daniel Gradias & Lilian Shanahan
Producer: Jackie Lee
Starring: Sahar Vahedi, Nika Tayrien, Jeffery Urrea and Eric Olsson
Accompanied by DJ/ drummer duo Dave2
A seemingly mute fourth grader goes to a new school and discovers her voice while contending with bullies and social pressures.
Writer/Director: Melissa Perez
Producer: Luis Moreno
Starring: Isabella Luna, Claire Cooper & David Cruz
Accompanied by Wachinangos, with singing by Ilana Luna covering songs by Bon Iver and Cafe Tacuba.
There’s No I in Team
Unable to assemble a team, a lonely baseball player plays a game solo.
Director: Travis Coles
The IV Fairy, always there to solve your trivial Isla Vista problems.
Writer/Director: Travis Krolicki
Producer: Jackie Lee
Starring: Brendon Garrett and Amanda Berning
Accompanied by Jay Paul Bicknell on ukulele, kazoo, and electric guitar.
Shadows on the Shore
A lone surfer is saved by a mermaid and dreams of meeting her again.
Writer/Director: Kira Martins
An uncool guy struggles with another day in his life and an intense soccer game with a group of tough players.
Writer/Director/Producer: Ricardo Martinez & Octavio Sifuentes
Assistant Director: Cameron Blake
Starring: Manuel Olmedo
Accompanied by Los Vagos
Sometimes the only place to escape is one’s own imagination.
Director: Michelle Safley
Bill Curran embarks on a journey through the desert wilderness in search of an elusive and cursed gold mine.
Writer/Director: Orlando Giumarra-Duguay
Producer: Jasmine Toutounchi
Cinematographers: Orlando Giumarra-Duguay & Brian Freeman
Starring: Flannery Lunsford, Bud Hurn, Shelly Skandrani
Accompanied by Pat Ford
Eres Tu (It is you)
Two men’s lives change forever… when they meet each other.
Writer/Director: Addison Smith
Starring: Kyle Thompson, Eric Olsson
Betty’s Big Birthday
Betty arrives in town with very little time to get ready for her own birthday.
Director: Hugo Eddie Smith
Angela is a young girl whose dreams of being an artist are awakened when a gypsy woman comes to sleepy Utilitown to shake things up.
Writer/Director: Steven Ray Morris
Producer: Jackie Lee
Cinematographer: Orlando Giumarra-Duguay
Starring: Jane Kim, Noemi Gonzalez, Jason Ko, Alex Bostelman
Accompanied by Existential Hero
Narrated by Cynthia Felando
The Thing with 20 Eyes
When a botched Soviet experiment lets loose a hideous beast with 20 eyes, it’s up to a lone American scientist to save the United States from utter peril.
Director: Mark Keyworth Belko
Writers: Mark Keyworth Belko & Laurie Piña
Producers: Kyle Thompson, Claudia Guerrero
Starring: David Brainard, Ben Margalith, Genevieve Sawicz, Shaun Plander, Matt Knutson, Ricardo Perez-Pineda
Accompanied by theraminist Roger Ballenger with brass and strings.
A small-time magician gets into a sticky situation after falling head over heels for his rival’s assistant.
Writer/Director/Producer/ Cinematographer: Matthew “Ace” Palanca
Editor: Erika Pearsons
Accompanied by Charles Schunk