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Festival Review: International Student Film Festival

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Banner“Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future”. These words, spoken by the late Steve Jobs, are applicable to a great many things and none more so than the first International Student Film Festival London. Showcasing the very best of student films from around the world, the Festival delivered on its promise to celebrate the film-makers of tomorrow and showed that the future of film is very bright indeed.

From the 3rd to the 5th February 2012, the London College of Communication played host to the International Student Film Festival which celebrated films from over thirty countries and in a huge range of styles and genres.

From feature-length documentaries to music videos and blink-and-you'd-miss-it animated shorts, the films screened during the Festival demonstrated the skill, intellect and imagination of student film-makers the world over. The vast array of films certainly catered for every taste and interest and displayed a raw flair which, perhaps, is lost in more established films.

Many films had their film-makers in attendance and engaging Q&A sessions after the screenings allowed for a fascinating insight into the minds of tomorrow's Spielbergs and Cronenbergs. Jonathan Schey, a student at Met Film School, premiered his comedy short An Outstanding Performer and said the experience was quite nerve-racking. “The worst thing with comedy is that no one laughs and it's the most embarrassing thing but I think it went down quite well”. Schey sees the festival as a great platform and starting point for his future work: “I want to keep making films and get my name out there. We want to try making that [An Outstanding Performer] into a TV show and develop the characters more”.

Other film-makers' work was received very enthusiastically by the festival audiences and the standard set by the vast majority of films was astronomically high. Senior Festival Programmer Alma Andreescu praised the vast range of submissions to the festival and suggested that part of its success was due to its international nature: “We've had films from Singapore, China, India, Germany, Israel and America. You're always surprised about what people think on the other side of the world and I always enjoy being in the audience and experiencing their reactions”.

Films which had the strongest audience reaction included Ice Flowers, a German short film about the relationship between an immigrant and an elderly woman. The film garnered warm praise as did The Road Home, a film selected for the 2010 Student Academy Awards, which explored the issue of race and identity with some stunning cinematography. It was easy to forget that the films shown were the efforts of students.

AwardsPerhaps to be expected for its first year, the format of the Festival itself could have been improved. The organisation and logistics were, at times, not as professional as could have been expected and certain events, particularly the Awards Ceremony lacked a professional and polished edge. The ceremony, admirably hosted by Sweeney Todd actress Jayne Wisener at the Apollo Cinema in Piccadilly Circus, was at best an informal affair and, at worst, something which an A Level business studies class could have organised better. After a musical introduction by 'The Cabinet of Living Cinema', we were shepherded out to the foyer whilst the 'set was being dressed' for the award presentations.

Someone obviously didn't get the email regarding the seating capacity of the cinema as some (including award recipients) were forced to sit in the aisles and award nominees were erratically dotted around the cinema, resulting in awkward silences and they made their way down to collect their awards. Furthermore, it would have been nice if the event had been black tie as some of the award presenters looked as thought they'd just got back from trekking in the Andes. Even though it was the Festival's first year and there were bound to be teething problems, these seemingly-minor problems detracted from the overall professional feel but, luckily, the films themselves more than compensated.

During the Awards Ceremony, the student film-makers were congratulated on their ability to produce professionally-polished films with limited resources and the sheer amount of talent which had been shown. Despite some small glitches, the inaugural year of the International Student Film Festival London was definitely a success – a success founded upon the quality of the films which were screened and the talent, drive and creativity of the students who produced engaging, thought-provoking and dynamic films. Whilst sitting in the screenings, one thing became clear: the future of film is a very exciting future indeed.

For further information on the festival, visit: www.sfflondon.org/

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