Student producer Giovanna Vicini gives the silent film festival a refresh

By Adar Levy

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Passion, innovation, and inspiring talent were on display at Campbell Hall at this year's student-run showcase for filmmakers, artists, musicians, and other performers.

 Art show display boards are visible to audiences before the films premiered.

Art show display boards are visible to audiences before the films premiered.

Students and the larger community applauded 12 of UC Santa Barbara’s filmmakers and other creative artists at the 27th Annual Reel Loud Film and Art Festival where student-directed silent short films were accompanied by live on-stage music.

Nine months of hard work and dedication from the Reel Loud organizing team paid off in an evening filled with musical performances, art features, and a room full of people ready to be inspired.

The festival started in 1991 as a way for students of UCSB’s Filmmakers’ Co-op to publically premiere their work, and was previously labeled the “Silent Film Project.” The producer of this year’s festival, Film and Media Studies major Giovanna Vicini, said this year’s festival had a slight face-lift. “We rebranded the festival to be ‘The Reel Loud Film and Art Festival.’ That is a new thing this year,” she said. The festival includes creative work from every corner of campus and is open to the Santa Barbara community.

Vicini described this year’s festival as the largest and most competitive in Reel Loud’s history, having received 25 film proposals and over 30 art submissions.

“We got submissions from people in PhD programs and from STEM majors. So we really reached a wider range of students this year,” she said. “The 27th year we were able to break the record. That was really exciting! It was a huge goal that we met.”

What separates the Reel loud Festival from other university film festivals is that all student films must be silent. Live music accompanies each film. Colin Haygeman is a UCSB student drummer who played for the films “L^mbo” and “Happenstance” in the festival this year, said the high motivation of the accompanying musicians encouraged him. “Having the opportunity to be one of the musicians that played along with the films was truly inspiring. The experience was really welcoming and eye opening to be apart of these talented artists here at UCSB,” he said.

For this year’s festival, a panel of film critics judged the submitted films. Everyone who showcased his or her work won something that night, but the Audience Choice award went to “Happenstance,” a film about two strangers who find themselves developing a charming relationship with each other in an elevator. “Heard,” a submission about sexual assault and a woman trying to escape a threatening relationship, won both Best Music and Best Cinematography. The film “Cross Steps” won for Best Editing, a story about two breakdancing rivals from two different upbringings. And last but not least, “Insulated,” a film about a young Japanese woman assimilating into American society, won the Scott Wells award for best use of the silent film theme.

Check out the video profile of Film and Media Studies major Giovanna Vicini below.

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Attracting around 800 audience members, this year’s event was a high point in the history of the Reel Loud festival, said producer Vicini. “I am just really excited personally, to put on this event and this platform out there for the students and the community to engage with each other,” she said. “I was really excited for them to be able to share their art and passion and their work with the public.”

Adar Levy is a third-year student at UC Santa Barbara, majoring in Sociology.

 Organizers and volunteers who helped put on Reel Loud, took their bows after the evening of screenings.

Organizers and volunteers who helped put on Reel Loud, took their bows after the evening of screenings.