The cinema department at Binghamton University is unlike most others. In addition to its experimental focus, students in the department also have the opportunity to organize and run a national juried film festival on their own before they graduate.
This weekend, Binghamton is hosting its annual Student Experimental Film Festival, organized by students in the cinema department’s course, Cinema 300: Curating Film and Video. On Friday, films were shown at the Art Mission and Theater and on Saturday, films will be shown in University Union.
The festival is organized by student volunteers from the class, who fill the roles of senior coordinators and programmers. The senior coordinators are responsible for organizing the other students and ensuring the overall success of the event. The programmers screened the submissions and put together the four programs which will be shown over two days.
Addie Dean, one of the senior coordinators for the festival and a senior majoring in cinema explained that students are in charge of the festival, with guidance from the professor of the course.
“The point of the class is for us to figure it out on our own,” Dean said.
She also shared that there is a camaraderie and shared motivation between students in the department to continue the festival each year, as students are not required to take the class which organizes it.
“It’s a desirable class,” Dean said. “You want to be able to say you did it.”
Running the festival is a mix of implementing new ideas each year and sticking with the established traditions. One such tradition is hosting part of the festival at the Art Mission and Theater in Downtown Binghamton, and bringing in the greater Binghamton community to share in the films.
“We are hoping to spread awareness of the cinema community [at Binghamton University],” Dean said. “It’s small but close.”
To solicit submissions for the festival, the coordinators researched other schools with experimental film programs. Experimental film, in contrast to conventional movies often shown in major theaters, are rooted in unique ideas and techniques. This year, the students in charge opened the submissions up to all filmmakers, not just students, through the use of FreeFilmway. Dean shared that this website garnered more than 300 film submissions from schools including Duke University, the California Institute of the Arts, Rhode Island School of Design and Amherst College.
The four programs, will run approximately one hour each day. Each of these programs has a theme selected by
the programmer who curated it. The four themes this year will be diary and portrait films, leaving places we are connected to, desire and the stages of life.
Because of the unique nature of experimental filmmaking, the audience has no way to guess the standards or techniques the filmmaker will employ. Dean, however, is adamant that this shouldn’t scare people away from attending the festival, but instead, should intrigue them.
“People should come with open minds and no expectations,” Dean said.
The Student Experimental Film Festival will conclude on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the University Undergrounds.