"And the Polar Bear goes to..."

The Second annual Bowdoin Film Festival will take place Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall. And even if the idea of seeing Bowdoin's resident film critic judging the competition doesn't thrill you to the core, the idea of seeing young filmmakers in action should.

Film festivals are at the grassroots level of cinema, where directors, actors and technicians all get their start. Big festivals like Sundance and Cannes get the media attention, but it's small festivals where true cinematic passion flourishes and prolific careers begin.

While in Barcelona last fall, I went to the Docupolis film fest and saw many films, including one called "The Curse of the Hedgehog," a documentary about Romanian Gypsies. There was excitement in the air as people ran around to different screenings, trying to catch as much as they can of the art on display. These filmmakers are truly inspiring to be around as well. Money or fame is never the goal at this level, but they desire to make new films out of their love for what they do, and desire to tell stories they see around them.

Previously a longstanding Bowdoin tradition, with legends of students camping outside Pickard Theater for tickets and dressing in tuxes and dresses for the event, the Bowdoin Film Fest was discontinued in 1990. That is until last year, when a group of Bowdoin students decided to revive the event.

Ben Cope-Kasten '06, one of the students involved, said, "I knew that a lot of people on campus were making films, and it was really surprising to me that there wasn't a forum for that kind of student work on campus."

"Gabe Kornbluh ['08] and I met Ben at a Film Society meeting, and he said he was thinking of starting up a student film festival," said film festival co-founder Ivanno Pulito '08. "Then Carolyn Hricko '08 joined us, and we all got really excited about it. We started planning what we could do to bring it back."

This year there are at least 10 films in the competition. They range from five to 20 minutes in length, from docs to fiction films. Judges for the films include yours truly, Associate Professor of Film Studies Tricia Welsch, and Greg Morris (of Bart and Greg's DVD Explosion) will choose the winners in the categories of Best Picture, Director, Performance, Writing, Cinematography/ Editing, and the crowd will choose the Audience Award winner.

"The diversity in length, genre, style and level of professionalism is really astounding, and shows there is a wide depth of interest in this," said Cope-Kasten.

This year there will be some additions to the program. During the judges' deliberation period, directors of some of this year's films will come on stage for a Q&A session. This will give students a chance to learn more about the process of making films, as well as encourage more people to take part in the festival next year.

And in the future there are even bigger plans in the works to continue to improve the festival. Once the amount of submissions gets high enough, a list of nominees will be drawn from the submissions before the festival takes place. A big part of getting to this point is reinstating film production classes on campus.

"They used to have these classes, and it is something that would be really awesome to recapture. Last year was a totally full auditorium, so the interest is there," said Cope-Kasten.

Finally, the organizers offer hope that students will continue to come out and support their fellow students and help the event continue to grow.

"I've seen the films and they're awesome, and even more than things like music or visual arts this is a chance to see things that people on campus are doing that you don't know they're doing," Cope-Karsten said.

And there'll be free popcorn. What more could you want?