Binghamton University students will hold the second annual Student Experimental Film Festival in Binghamton (SEFF Binghamton) this Friday and Saturday. The festival will feature the work of student filmmakers from around the country.
The film festival is run by students in “CINE 380J: Curating Film and Video,” a class taught by cinema department professor Tomonari Nishikawa.
“I have been working as a film curator since 2007,” Nishikawa said. “I co-founded a new film festival in Kuala Lumpur when I was living there in 2009, so I wanted to share my knowledge and experience with students.”
Daniel Assaban, a senior majoring in cinema and one of the coordinators of the festival, said he and his classmates worked in teams to plan out different aspects of the event.
“In the beginning of the semester we are broken down into groups such as coordinators, fundraisers and programmers,” Assaban said. “Each group plays a vital role in getting all the film entries together as well as screening them and accommodating the needs of all the filmmakers.”
Students in the course sent entry forms to cinema departments at schools across the United States, like the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Once filmmakers submitted their entries, the programmers in Nishikawa’s class screened the films and selected which ones to include in SEFF Binghamton.
All films that will be shown at the festival are experimental, in the sense that they do not follow the norms of mainstream cinema.
“What makes these films experimental is that they stray away from conventional narrative that is used in film making,” Assaban said. “It makes them interesting because it allows the filmmaker to communicate with the audience in a different way.”
Olivia Fischetti, a senior majoring in marketing and one of the class’s coordinators, said the genre of experimental film is unique.
“The films are unlike any that conventional Hollywood has,” Fischetti said. “You have to go in with an open mind. The images are right there in your face. At first I was not a fan of the genre but then I looked into it more and realized that it is awesome in its own way.”
Unlike the first SEFF Binghamton, this year’s festival will screen films at an off-campus location. The first night of the festival, Friday, will be held at the Know Theatre in Downtown Binghamton. Saturday’s screenings will be held on campus in Lecture Hall 6.
Assaban, Fischetti and Nishikawa all said they hoped the event would introduce newcomers to the possibilities of experimental film.
“It will be interesting to see how people stray away from the conventional narrative using the media of film to communicate in a different way to the audience,” Fischetti said.
Nishikawa said he thinks the festival will be a great learning experience for his students.
“I thought it would be great for them to see works by students in other institutions, including graduate students,” Nishikawa said.
Many of the films that were shown in SEFF Binghamton in the past have also been featured in the New York Film Festival and the TriBeCa Film Festival.