A MovieFestivus for the rest of us

by Beacon Staff • April 18, 2007

In the end, a spoof of a video game and two recreations of classic film scenes took the top prizes.

Campus MovieFest (CMF) calls itself the world's largest student film festival, and this year, some 12,000 students in the Boston area alone participated.,With a laptop, a digital camcorder and one week's time, hundreds of aspiring Emerson filmakers vied for their first red carpet film awards.

In the end, a spoof of a video game and two recreations of classic film scenes took the top prizes.

Campus MovieFest (CMF) calls itself the world's largest student film festival, and this year, some 12,000 students in the Boston area alone participated. CMF gave teams a laptop computer, a digital camcorder and a week's time to prove their creativity, talent and skill in five-minute films.

"Successful and acclaimed filmmakers don't materialize out of thin air. They start with an idea, a vision or a story to tell," said Tom Karsch, executive vice president and general manager of Turner Classic Movies, which sponsored the event along with cable network TBS.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern, Boston College, Tufts, Emerson and Boston University each had individual CMF finales beginning at the end of March and ending tonight.

Emerson had the largest number of contributors, with more than 100 teams.

On finale night Monday at the Courtyard Marriott on Tremont Street, 16 teams of finalists found out if they won one of three awards that would take them to the regional finale Saturday night at the Colonial Theatre.

From there, they could move on to the national finale at the Atlanta Film Festival on April 27.

After an hour and a half of funny plots, dramatic characters, avant-garde images and interesting camera angles, the winners were announced.

Out of a number of "very funny" films, Emerson freshman film major director Tony Yacenda's Guitar Legend won the TBS Very Funny film award with help from his team, Whisper Video.

This marriage of an E! "True Hollywood Story" and the epidemic video game Guitar Hero got tons of laughs as the main character of the film describes his life as a struggling guitar hero. The film depicts many stereotypical events in the life of a struggling musician, only with references to the popular video game.

At one point, the main character gets kicked out of his band because he was still on the easy level and the band wanted to move on to medium and expert.

"I was surprised," Yacenda said after finding out he won the award. "We definitely wanted to make something that people would enjoy watching. But since I'm a freshman who made a parody about Guitar Hero, I wasn't expecting to win."

The next award was the Turner Classic Movie award, which called for a remake of a well-known scene from a classic movie.

Two teams took the award.

Sealed, by the team Not What the Cat Bought and directed by sophomore Writing, Literature and Publishing major Bianca Hoffman, was announced first. Sealed depicts a modern-day version of Rapunzel. The film features gorgeous shots of a princess-like character trying to escape a sunset-lit apartment overlooking Boston. Meanwhile, her hero desperately tries to find the key to save her.

Bonnie and Clyde Photo Shoot, by Team Team and freshman director Peter Pa, also took the award, with the shortest and most avant-garde film. Two characters similar to the infamous criminal lovers take two different types of shots at each other, one with a camera and the other with a pistol. However, the one with blood on his or her hands is a surprise.

Pa, a junior visual media arts major, said the process was cold and stressful. Shot on a frigid day, the film was handed in just four hours before deadline. The concepts and cinematography of both winners were interesting and beautiful.

It was a very close call when it came to the nominees for the CMF's best picture award. At First Sign, by Movie Magic, illustrated the touching story of the lengths people will go for love and was the first to be nominated.

The next was a comedy by the team Swolen Monkey called DANGER: High Voltage, a hilarious parody of probably every action/espionage movie you've ever seen. The third nominee was a strikingly pretty film called Fisheye, in which the main character makes a Polaroid diary of sorts of his relationship.

Sealed was nominated again in this category, and took the award, its second of the night.

"I didn't think it was possible," said director Hoffman after winning a second time. She expressed a great deal of appreciation for her teammates on Not What the Cat Bought: junior film and WLP double major Billy Chew and sophomore film majors Max Wagenblass, Jeff Sterrenberg and Galen Kilbride.

Hoffman said she can't see herself doing anything else.

"I just love movies," she said.