Columbia talent to be featured at CineYouth Film Festival

By Leah Love, News Editor

Kailey Ryan

Three years ago, Reed Wisinski, a senior film and television major, with a minor in animation, submitted one of his projects to the CineYouth Film Festival, an event that highlights short films from across the globe created by directors under the age of 22.

However, his film was not accepted, so when he put forth his animated short ‘Tiny Trooper: Green vs. Tan’ for consideration in the 2023 festival, his expectations were low.

“I was very surprised to see that the film got accepted,” Winski said.

His film is among 65 films chosen out of over 330 submissions for the 2023 CineYouth Film Festival, which will take place from April 21 through 23 at Facets, a nonprofit theatre in Lincoln Park. Films by alumni Gillian Fauntleroy and Josh Leftwich will also be screened at the festival.

Wisinski’s film tells the story of a battle between two armies of toy soldiers. He said has been making toy soldier animation for six years and his process has developed over the years from using stop motion to working with 3D computer animation.

Before he made ‘Tiny Trooper: Green vs. Tan,’ Wisinski said he was getting “burnt out” from making the same genre of films with the same methods.

“I took a few-month break from making [toy soldier films]… Over that time, I thought about some new ways of how I could put together the film, evolving my process,” Wisinski said.

During his break, Wisinski was reminded why he wanted to make films—”Good films give me an awesome feeling that I have not been able to find anywhere else and they transport you to another world. I want to be able to make films that provide this experience and also have fun while I am doing it,” Wisinki said in an email to the Chronicle.

Fauntleroy’s short film, “Sinking,” a tense, submarine-set drama inspired by The Twilight Zone, was her first time directing since before the pandemic.

When she was working on the film, she said it was important to her that her collaborators on the project, such as director of photography Eli Cooper and production designer Louise Bean, had a voice.

“I have an inkling of what I want to see, but I have a big preference in learning about their ideas and then discussing, what I had in mind, and so we can merge them together, [and] create something successful,” Fauntelroy, a 2021 graduate said.

Leftwich, a 2021 graduate, will be showcasing his short film, “See Me.”

Current Columbia students are also playing a role in the behind-the-scenes of the festival—senior film and television arts major Saul Rodriguez served on the programming committee, and graduate students in Cinema and Television Producing program in adjunct Rachel Rozycki’s “Marketing, Distribution and Exhibition” class will help jury the festival’s International Award.

Rodriguez said he hopes to pursue film programming professionally, and working on CineYouth has shown him how “arduous,” yet rewarding the curation process can be.

“It’s fulfilling to know I’m helping future filmmakers gain an audience,” Rodriguez told the Chronicle in an email. “We worked hard to represent a wide variety of genres, themes and filmmakers because we believe in the power of their stories. The films are short, and most are made with limited resources, yet the passion and creativity shine through on all of them.”

Having college students on the programming committee to select the films was “really valuable,” said festival manager Celeste Wong.

“A lot of the discussion that we had is just like, what voices and films are accurately representing their perspective as young folks?” Wong said. “And of course, as a result, [the films will] resonate with everyone, because older people were younger once, too.”

Wong said she believes the film festival world will benefit from having younger voices.

“We can only benefit from allowing more voices, and that’s really going to come from young folks and young curators, and I think we should follow their lead, frankly, when it comes to the future of the industry,” Wong said.

The festival is free to attend, and the schedule can be located on the CineYouth website. The short films will also be available to stream online from April 24 through 30.