Rutgers Campus MovieFest competition wraps up with red carpet event


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Photo by Casey Ambrosio |

After competing in the Campus MovieFest, an event hosted by the Rutgers University Programming Association, a group of Rutgers students were chosen to showcase their work at the prestigious Cannes film festival in France.


Campus MovieFest (CMF) is the world’s largest student film festival. It began in 2001 when four students at Emory University provided the materials to fellow students to make their own movies in just one week.

Sponsored by Campus MovieFest and the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA), the event, which describes itself as the “World’s largest student film festival,” is part of a national competition amongst universities across the U.S. Rutgers' branch of the contest runs from March 29 to April 4. Past winners of the event have earned over $2 million in prizes.

Campus winners move on to compete at TERMINUS, a four-day media conference and awards ceremony, as well as earn professional and educational opportunities and more, according to the press release. 

Successful participants were also invited to apply to the Campus MovieFest Cannes Program, which would give them the opportunity to screen their films at the Cannes Film Festival, one of the world's most renowned film-related events, according to the press release. 

As part of the CMF Cannes Program, thirty selected Campus MovieFest films from the 2016 year will screen on May 25 and 26.

This year 45 student filmmakers, representing twenty different universities from across the United States were able to take part in the Cannes Program experience, according to the press release. 

The films showcased are around five minutes long and must be completed in one week. More than 1 million college students across the country tell their stories through film. It is free to students to enter and create their films.

There are over 30 colleges who participate in the festival, and each school hosts its own red carpet finale. The awards are presented for overall best picture, best director, best story and best sound."

Julia Howard is the marketing coordinator at CMF and works in the main office in Atlanta. She works closely with on-campus promotions managers to coordinate the marketing of the event both on-campus and nationally.

“Campus MovieFest started at Emory University and has spread to become the world's largest student film festival,” Howard said. “We provide the equipment and training to students so that they can tell their stories. We bring this challenge and our red carpet event to many schools across America.”

Rutgers as a university and the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) sponsors the event. RUPA is the university-wide student programming council that serves the Rutgers community by providing a variety of events on all five campuses.

“Our touring staff, who are on-campus at each school, coordinate with RUPA to make the event run smoothly," Howard said.

There is an on-campus Rutgers team that includes tour manager, Quincy Bazen, video manager, Trent Bellet, promotions manager, Joey Engelman and interns, Cam McKenzie and Nicole Goldstein.

“We're also sponsored by Seeker, Adobe, Panasonic, Sennheiser, Elfenworks, LaCroix Water and Virgin America, all of whom help make our event possible,” Howard said.

Howard explained that all the sponsors make it possible for it to be free for students.

To participate in CMF, Howard said one would have to be a currently enrolled student, to ensure that all the films are 100 percent student-made. Actors and actresses do not need to be students, but the crew must be.

“We had 83 movies submitted, all ranging in topics and genres,” she said. “To give you a snapshot, our Rutgers Jury Award winning films included a romance, a drama, an art film and a documentary.”

Students can win other awards as well.

“Students can win Silver Tripod Awards and a Jury Award. The Silver Tripod awards go to films that excel in a particular category. For example, best cinematography, best performance, best sound, etc. Not every category is fulfilled at each campus. At the national level we give out the Golden Tripod for all the categories, which pull nominees from the pool of Silver Tripod winners,” she said.

She said the Jury Award winners are the top four films at each school and they win the chance to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival or on Virgin America flights.

“They also win a year's worth of Adobe Creative Cloud, a winner's shirt and a clapboard physical award. Jury Award movies will move on to be screened at TERMINUS, our national event, where the winning films for best picture, best comedy and best drama are announced,” she said.

The audience gets to participate as well. There is an audience award that brings the most people to the finale of the festival.

“They win a TERMINUS all-access badge and become our 'Movie of the Week' on social media,” Howard said.

Morgan Sanguedolce, a School of Arts and Science junior, participated in CMF and was part of the team that produced her film "The Woman Under The Veil."

“I chose this title because while the film focuses on the headscarf, it is essentially about the woman and her choice to wear or to not wear the headscarf,” Sanguedolce said.

She said her film was about a Muslim-American woman and her choice to wear or not wear the headscarf. Her film explores issues of anti-Muslim hate and religious freedom from the perspectives of three Muslim students and Atiya Aftab a professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies.

“The Woman Under The Veil" won the Jury Award, which qualifies the film to be screened at the TERMINUS Film Festival in Atlanta this summer. Only four films out of the top 16 finalists get this award.

“It's an incredible honor to have achieved (the Jury Award),” she said. “Campus MovieFest is so much fun Campus MovieFest is, as filmmaker Lauren Loesner says, the Film Superbowl. It's what I look forward to all year.”

Angel Pelaez, a Mason Gross School of the Arts sophomore, is another filmmaker who participated in CMF.

“MovieFest was extremely stressful but highly rewarding especially when I found out my film placed top four with a Jury award,” she said. “It felt empowering knowing a select group understood the message I was trying to put out.”

Her film is about a psychological death of her past self, troubled by the confusion of identity and sexuality. It is about a rebirth through self-love and acceptance of queerness.

She said her inspirations are Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo.

“Student filmmaking is very important because it promotes using your power and voice," she said. "It encourages other students to tell their stories, allowing the unheard to be heard and others to relate, especially when the media we are given tends to ignore issues that are prevalent to our development as we maneuver in society."


Jillian Pastor is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.


Jillian Pastor

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