Campus Beat Reporter
UC Santa Barbara’s artistic community gathered at Campbell Hall on Friday to showcase its creative talent through original short films, works of art, and performances. At the center of the 27th Annual Reel Loud Film Festival were student-directed silent short films accompanied by live on-stage music. Approximately 800 audience members also attended to celebrate the creative collaboration.
The festival commenced with a courtyard reception in front of Campbell Hall where guests could purchase tickets, enjoy free tacos, and listen to live music. The band Odd Army, comprised of UCSB and Cal Poly students, hyped up the crowd with their high-energy rock music. The reception also allowed student artists to showcase and sell some of their original work.
Santiago Sanchez, a second-year film and media studies and philosophy double major, emphasized his photography’s ability to convey a deeper narrative. “This one’s about my old housemate. It shows that he is trying to live the experiences of college students, but he couldn’t because his kid was constantly on his mind,” explained Sanchez.
At approximately 7:30 p.m., the doors of Campbell Hall opened, and excited guests filed into the lecture hall and took to their seats.
The first film “cross step,” directed by incoming UCSBreakin’ President Kai Kevin Goh and EmmaClaire Brock, was about two breakdancing rivals who earn each other’s respect through their passion for breakdancing.
Goh, a third-year film and media studies major, told The Bottom Line, “The film was inspired by my regular passion, which was breakdancing. I would always see people coming from all walks of life practice and battle; people you never see in the same place anywhere else.”
Amidst the climactic dance battle for the USA qualifiers, the actors of the movie rushed on stage and performed breakdancing live for an ecstatic audience. Spenser Williams DJ’ed on stage, providing electric music for an electrifying movie.
Next, “A Field of Flowers” tore at the audience’s heartstrings with a bittersweet film about a family’s attempt to see beauty in the world after a car accident. Directed by Ted Imsirithaworn, the film blends live action with animation to illustrate the world from the perspective of a hardworking dad and his blind but imaginative son. Ashley de Leon’s angelic voice and original music accompanied the movie, enhancing the emotional impact of the conveyed narrative.
“2 Buds” was up next, using slapstick comedy to provide much-needed relief from the emotional rollercoaster of the previous movie. The film was an homage to silent era comedies such as those of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Directed by Hunter Johnsen, the black-and-white film followed two best friends who turn against each other for the affection of a girl. Dylan Alamos provided sound effects on the piano, playing perfectly placed sounds that elicited uncontrollable laughter from the audience.
During a brief break, Vivian Storm, the 2016 Queen of Pride, thrilled the crowd with her beautiful voice with a perfect rendition of Beyonce’s “Love on Top.”
After Storm’s performance, “Insulated” intrigued the audience with a narrative about a young Japanese teen’s journey integrating into American society. Shooting directly on a Samsung S8, director Damien D. Bell pushed the limits of independent film by showing that meaning is just as important as aesthetics.
“10 Vipers” then dazzled the audience with impressive visuals. Directed by Andrew Han, the film’s merits lie in its chilling aesthetics, impressive cinematography, and haunting soundtrack performed by Poe the Passenger.
After “10 Vipers,” a ballerina performs her recital while being bombarded by spaghetti in “danse des pates.” Described as “the most important ballet film of the century” on the playbill, the film is a blend of cinematic professionalism and nonsensical humour.
After the previous six movies, the festival transitioned into a brief intermission with light refreshments and live music by Chris Otte and Barrett Tuttobene.
“Heard” then commenced the festival’s second part with a chilling performance about sexual assault. Directed by Joshua Sechrist, the film revolved around an invisibly-bound woman trying to escape a menacing man. The film took a turn when Jennifer Johnson, the on-stage performer, screamed and empowered the woman on-screen to take back control.
“Thank You For Your Time” rekindled the audience’s humor with a whimsical narrative about a lonely vampiress who becomes friends with a girl scout selling cookies. The film was directed by Zachary Ye and conveyed a beautiful message about friendship.
Next, the audience was once again hit with a bittersweet film: “Young Grandpa,” a narrative about how an apple pie connects two different generations of men.
UCSB InterVals A Capella then took to the stage, exciting the crowd with renditions of popular songs such as “Rebel Just for Kicks” and “Runaway Baby.”
“L^mbo,” one of the closing three films, was an emotional look into a couple trapped in denial and uncertainty. Directed by Mika G. Pham, the film featured a dual narrative of a relationship’s slow decline. The couple danced with a string, symbolizing the emotional connection they had. However, the string snapped after the couple’s refusal to let go.
Gwendolyn Ly’s “Stay by Me” was a cinematic triumph in independent film. The film looked, felt, and sounded like a Triple-A title. From the soft color scheme to the natural lighting, the film exquisitely portrayed a love story spanning a lifetime.
Last but not least, “Happenstance” charmed the audience with a simple film that relied more on acting than special effects. Directed by Immanuel Steinberg, the film took place in an elevator where two strangers bumped into each other daily, fostering an adorably charming relationship.
This year’s film festival was a competition, where a panel of expert film critics judged the entered films. “Cross step” won the best editing, while “Heard” won both best cinematography and best music. The audience choice award went to “Happenstance.” In addition, “Insulated” won the Scott Wells award, which is given to the film that best utilized the silent film theme of “Watch it Play Back.”
All proceeds from the festival went to the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, and the festival ended at 11:00 p.m., marking another successful year of UCSB artistic production.