Student filmmakers showcased in New Visions Festival

By Lisa Schulz

Columbia’s Film and Video Department has joined with the Music Department to create the New Visions Film Festival, in which the work of nine film students will be showcased in the Recital Hall of the Sherwood Community Music School, 1312 S. Michigan Ave., on Sept. 29.

Other hosts of the event are the Sherwood and the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance, a South Loop and South Side community organization.

Adjunct Film and Video faculty member Jeffrey Jon Smith, also curator of the program, will host the 90-minute-long showing in the 100-person venue.

“These are up-and-coming, emerging filmmakers,” Smith said. “It’s a really lovely mix of established student filmmakers and newer student filmmakers.”

Smith, who has taught at Columbia for six years, also hosts “Meet Me at the Movies,” a monthly screening of classic Hollywood films for the Prairie District (PDNA).

The PDNA focuses on preparing social events and sharing the neighborhood’s history. Tina Feldstein, president of the PDNA, said the organization is excited to have a closer partnership with Columbia and its residents.

“It’s bringing an incredible and unique opportunity for our residents to be introduced to very talented students and interesting art and culture,” Feldstein said.

The Sherwood School, a music education center for all ages of the South Loop community, merged with Columbia in July 2007. Profits of the film festival will contribute to the school’s scholarship program. This is the first time a festival like this has been attempted by two departments, Smith said.

“We sometimes get totally absorbed in our own department’s work, and it’s hard to connect with other departments and find this kind of synergy,” Smith said.

Professors in the Film and Video Department, from foundations classes to advanced classes, also worked together to create the line-up for the festival. Film nominations ranged from never-before-seen short films to those that have premiered at the Annual Big Screen Film Festival, an end-of-the-year student filmmaker showcase held at Columbia.

One Big Screen film that will show at the New Visions Film Festival is “Pass Through the Fire,” directed by Dierdre Lee, graduate student. Smith said he aimed to create a line-up of films with diversity while maintaining a “harmonious, aesthetic flow,” with a range of genres such as comedy, drama and documentaries.

“Ripped,” an eight-minute documentary produced, directed and edited by sophomore film and video major Natalie Stone, will debut at the festival. The short film is just one of five Stone created when she was a freshman. The story focuses on Kris Lenzo, wheelchair athlete and dancer.

“I got very lucky having such a compelling subject,” Stone said. Even though the film wasn’t intended to have a certain message, she said, she “hopes to remove the mystery around disability a little bit. I think that was a good goal, and that it resonates with people.”

Stone said she looks forward to her audience’s reaction and feedback to discover her film’s strengths and weaknesses. There will be a meet-and-greet opportunity with the filmmakers or film representatives, and a Q-and-A session. Smith said he hopes to see the New Visions Film Festival

continue annually.

“[Film festivals are] a different kind of experience [for student filmmakers],” Smith said. “It’s kind of scary sometimes, but it’s also hugely gratifying because their responses are the kind of responses you’d get if you were showing it in a commercial theater. It’s straight from the heart.”

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for Columbia students and faculty with valid ID; For more information, visit