Movie fest energizes enthusiasts

Indie films, documentaries, international features, an Oscar-nominated keynote speaker, and a worldwide student film competition — the Reynolda Film Festival offers them all.

From March 29 – April 2, Wake Forest students will host the Reynolda Film Festival, which is in its fourth year, on the Reynolda Campus.

Six feature films will be screened over the five-day event. Students serving on the Reynolda Film Festival’s executive committee traveled to the Tribeca Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival last year to choose the selections. The festival also includes panel discussions and special events, including a keynote presentation by director Jason Reitman and a screening of his film, “Thank You for Smoking,” on April 2.

Reynolda Film Festival

More information, including movie trailers for feature presentations and a festival schedule is available on the Reynolda Film Festival website. Most events are free and open to the public.

In addition to the movie screenings and programs, over 100 films were submitted, from as far away as the Netherlands, as part of the festival’s student film competition. Twelve of these films have been named finalists — three films in each of four categories: narrative, animation, experimental and documentary. Finalists were selected by panels of peer and professional judges, and one or more will open each of the feature films and events, giving each filmmaker an opportunity to be shown in front of leading industry professionals. The four winners will be announced and screened on the final day of the festival.

“Because of outstanding student commitment to the festival and University-wide support, we’ve been able to up the quality of offerings each year, and attendance has increased as a result,” says senior Clint Wilson, executive director of the festival. “This year several distributors provided films free or at a reduced rate because they are excited to have a venue in the southeast where support for the film industry continues to grow.”

Clint Wilson

Clint Wilson

Last year, nearly 3,000 people attended the festival over four days, encouraging student leaders to extend the festival to five days this year and include a new Documentary Day focus.

“Doc day” will feature “Climate of Change,” a film on environmentalists uniting to protect the Earth, and “Windfall,” which highlights issues related to alternative wind energy. Current MA and MFA students enrolled in Wake Forest’s Documentary Film Program will present their works-in-progress at a Q&A panel discussion.

“Movies are an immediate media that require only a two-hour time commitment to experience and learn something new,” says Wilson. “I think that’s what makes film festivals popular.” Wilson’s must-see picks for the festival include “Nowhere Boy,” a film on John Lennon’s childhood in Liverpool, and “My Brothers,” a story of three brothers’ Homeric journey to replace their father’s broken watch.

Pulling the festival together is fast becoming almost a year-long process. “Working with the festival over the past four years has helped me to appreciate the value of learning to use resources and navigate challenging situations,” says Wilson, who is an English major, and film studies minor from Huntington, W.Va. “I’ve had fun days and challenging days pulling the event together. I would say the process is a metaphor for my entire academic experience. No one is an island. We all need help and support to make good things happen.”

The Reynolda Film Festival is co-sponsored by WAKETV, the Department of Communication, the film studies program and the Documentary Film Program.

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