Smile Politely

Who doesn’t love movies?

OK, so… do you like movies? Even if you don’t, just say yes because otherwise I won’t believe you’re human. So for all of you movie lovers — and particularly lovers of original, student-made films, then the Illinifest Student Film Festival could not be more tailor-made for you. Planned and put together by Media and Cinema Studies students, it will be held Sunday, May 3rd, in the Lincoln Hall Theater at 1p.m.

I talked to Bailey Hicks, one of the students who helped coordinate and plan the film festival, to give me some details about how it all came together and what they’re trying to support.


Smile Politely: In your press release it says you have received over 60 submissions from 45 different filmmakers. What genre of films have you received, and are all submissions only from students in Illinois?

Bailey Hicks: We have received submissions from many different genres! They are mostly short films, spanning mockumentaries, movie trailers, experimental shorts, comedies, and more serious films. It was really exciting to receive submissions that ranged in a variety of skill level, subject matter, and length. The submissions that are in the competition portion of the programming were all made by students in Illinois!

SP: Is there a particular theme for the film festivals? If yes what is this year’s theme?

Hicks: There is no specific theme for the festival. The only submission criteria was that films [be] greater than a minute in length and from current or recently graduated students in Illinois. Our goal is to promote and celebrate the artistic expression that comes from filmmaking and movie appreciation.

SP: What has to be done to put together the film festival, and what has been the most enjoyable and most difficult part of planning the festival? Do you receive any help from a professor or is it solely run by students?

Hicks: <span 0.875em;=”” line-height:=”” 1.357;”=””>The film festival is being put on as part of MACS464 – Film Festivals. There are less than 20 students who comprise different committees, such as Press Relations, Publicity, Partner/Sponsor Relations, Venues/Logistics, and Programming/Submissions. Each committee is responsible for a different part of Illinifest’s planning and organization, whether it’s trying to get sponsors and partners or booking the location for the festival or printing posters. We have a couple sponsors we’ve worked with: the Illini Union Board, SAG-AFTRA, and Shatterglass Studios. All of their help has been incredibly invaluable. This is entirely a student-run festival, and we do have an advisor who is the teacher of the class, Dora Valkanova. We definitely tried to keep the focus of this festival on the students!

SP: What are your categories for the various prizes, and what is the criteria a film needs to fit to be chosen?

Hicks: The categories for prizes are Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Acting, Best Documentary, Social Impact Award, and Audience Favorite. There will be a jury of people who will choose the winners in each category based on what each category is. The Audience Favorite award will be chosen by the audience.

SP: How do you see the film festival contributing to the community and also to those who are hoping to continue in the film industry?

Hicks: Our goal from the very start of planning this festival was to encourage cinema as both a powerful and accessible form of art. Anyone should feel like their voice or perspective is worth sharing, and we want to celebrate film as that expressive medium. Because Illinifest is run by student for students, we are able to garner a unique student perspective. We received submissions that students made in classes or for projects or specifically because they were intrinsically interested in filmmaking. It helps strengthen a community of students, and it will hopefully help the Champaign-Urbana arts community as well. There is an incredibly vibrant cultural arts community both on campus and in town that Illinifest can contribute to and learn from. During the festival, we will have an informational panel on the transition from being a college student into professional filmmaking opportunities. This — combined with the accessibility of Illinifest to students — will create opportunities for people who envision their lives as filmmakers.


For more information on Illinifest Student Film Festival, check out the Facebook page here.

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