April 22, 2019 | 59° F

Rutgers alumna receives national acclaim for feminist advocacy inspired film

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Campus Movie Fest equips college students from across the country with tools to make their own five-minute film. Student movies are judged on a campus level where the top submissions move onto national competition. 

Earlier this year, Morgan Sanguedolce, a senior at the time, was awarded National Best Documentary for her film “Participation Generation.”

The Rutgers alumna's film was judged against 80 others created by Rutgers students before moving onto national competition as part of Campus Movie Fest (CMF), a yearly competition that provides students free access to high-grade filmmaking equipment. 

CMF was started at Emory University in 2001, said Julia Howard, marketing coordinator for Campus Movie Fest. Its founders were a group of student movie-makers that wanted to share their film equipment with their peers and see what they could come up with in a week. More than 17 years later, the program visits approximately 50 campuses during the school year and provides high-grade cameras, microphones and other tools for students to use in creating the best films they can.

“We travel around the country to different universities, giving filmmaking equipment to college students,” Howard said. “They have one week to make the movie. At the end of the week, they return the equipment and turn in their movie, and we have a huge red carpet premiere. The top four films from every single campus move on to compete nationally.”

Students who sign up have one week to create a movie up to 5 minutes long with no restrictions on casting. Movies fall into different categories and cannot use copyrighted material along with other restrictions. Once the program finishes, submitted movies are screened at their respective campuses for university officials and reviewers, which may include film professors or other officials. Winners who are selected go on to the national premiere to be judged by CMF judges and partners. 

Winners of CMF's collegiate competition are awarded a variety of prizes, such as Apple TVs or a subscription to Amazon Prime Student. On the national level, students receive recognition and exposure, Howard said. Their films are presented to an audience of film critics and industry professionals, and the top 25 films of the year are also made available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

“Participation Generation” takes inspiration from a course Sanguedolce took her senior year called “Feminist Advocacy for Women's Rights Through the UN." The class taught students about the different methods of advocating for women’s rights and what policies are being focused on by modern feminists. 

Every year, the course sends a group of students to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.

“The idea for the film came out of the class, out of all of us going to the United Nations. It kinda just came out of that experience and I thought it was just something nobody at Rutgers knew was happening but it was so extraordinary and I thought this is, this has to be, what I do my Campus Movie Fest film on. It was just so incredible,” Sanguedolce said.

She first heard of Campus Movie Fest while participating in “Knight Time Productions," an on-campus student-operated film organization, during her first year. Sanguedolce has participated in the program for the duration of her time at Rutgers and described it as the most important part of her film experience every year.

“It's life. Campus Movie Fest is what we wait all year for,” she said. 

Sanguedolce described winning on the campus level almost as fulfilling as getting a college diploma. She also won the competition her junior year and worked on a winning film the year before that. She highly regards the guidance and assistance she and her film-oriented peers received from professors and said that working on these films during her time at Rutgers was rewarding — to receive such an honor felt like the perfect culmination of her efforts.

Sanguedolce now works at Entertainment Weekly and hopes to continue making movies as she works toward becoming a bonafide film director.

The national competition, held in Atlanta this year, was where she won her highest award for “Best Documentary.” Among films created by Rutgers students were comedies, dramas and documentaries about everything from the girls' swim team to finding true happiness. 

CMF will likely come to Rutgers this spring for the 2018-2019 school year, Howard said. Promotion and outreach will begin a month in advance, and all interested students are encouraged to participate. 

“The best part about it is that it's completely free to participate in,” Sanguedolce said. “They literally hand you equipment. Anyone can do it, and that's what's great about it. You don't need any financial privilege or any ‘step ahead’ you know? Absolutely anyone can do it, and do well in it.”

Andrew Petryna

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