Film festival showcases international talent

Alex Kamczyc

It was a packed house at the Kent Stage Saturday as people showed up to attend the 14th Annual Standing Rock International Shorts Festival.

The event is run by Jeff Ingram, executive director and co-founder of Standing Rock Cultural Arts, a local non-profit organization dedicated to building a community through the arts.

“In our sea of information out there, I think you can say a lot with a picture,” Ingram said. “Having a shorts festival like this that concentrates on the visual and concentrates on a way to communicate things visually … I think it develops a part of our brain that’s really going in the direction of progress.”

The festival is a two-hour event, spanning three portions. The first is a contest, where people see films submitted for a chance to win a prize. The second part is a Q & A session where the winner of the previous year’s event sits down and talks about the creative process and what it’s like to be a filmmaker.

“Standing Rock is the community’s creative spine,” said Mary Hughes, one of the directors whose film was shown at the festival. “They really support local artists and make it easy for people like me to create.”

The festival had 11 submissions featuring filmmakers from Kent, Mexico, London and South Africa. The films that are selected for the festival are graded on three criteria: creativity, technical ability and cultural relevance.

“I love to see perspectives from outside the country,” Ingram said. “I think that’s what makes us great, to have this melting pot of different views.”

Some of the videos presented at the festival included one woman’s journey to find a piñata for her son, music videos and a heartbreaking story based around a Nokia phone.

“I think it’s important for an event like this to be held,” said Zoe Logston, a junior digital media production major. “Not only from a learning aspect, but from an entertainment one as well. A lot of people are having a rough time in society now and it’s nice to have an escape from the issues of the world.”

For the final event, which focused on local talent, three short films were shown —  two of which were from middle school students.

“Being an arts and education organization, we see a lot of different ways to create art but not a lot of ways to get it in front of the public eye,” Ingram said. “So us being a vehicle — and to have a forum to bring that to the public — is one of the most exciting things about this job.”

Alex Kamczyc is the arts reporter, contact him at[email protected]