Thanks to the pre-frosh, it's a dry weekend on campus. Snow is inexplicably still in the weather forecast. What's a Bowdoin student to do?
Head over to the student film fest, of course.
The revived Third Annual Bowdoin Film Festival will be happening this weekend in Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall, and a record number of filmmakers are participating in the event this year.
"I'm very excited for the show," said Krystle Allen, co-president of the Bowdoin Film Society. "I think there's a lot of talent on campus and I am happy that it can be showcased."
The festival has grown quickly since it was revived two years ago. For this year's festival, organizers (myself included) decided to make it a multi-day event for the first time.
"Last year there was an increase in film entries and a large turnout at the film fest," said Allen. "I think students not only have a growing interest in film studies, but also filmmaking."
The road to Best Picture is no easy trek. Students first submitted their films for viewing to a nominations committee, which selected the films that would compete for glory in award categories including Best Picture, Acting, and Writing. All these films, as well as a number of films not in the competition, will be screened tonight starting at 6:30 p.m. Plenty of free popcorn will be waiting.
Then, the judging committee will meet to determine the winners in 10 of the 11 categories. But the last one is up to you.
Voting for the Audience Award winner will occur on Friday, when students and members of the greater community get to vote for their favorite film of the year.
The awards show will occur Sunday at 7:30 pm. Bowdoin faculty and staff will present the awards, with a special presenter for Best Picture. The Longfellows will also perform.
Associate Professor and Film Studies Chair Tricia Welsch shares Allen's positive opinion regarding the growth of the event.
"Each year the excitement around this event grows, and the bar for the films entered into competition gets higher. The prize-giving is fun, but the biggest charge comes from seeing students express themselves creatively and in collaboration," she said.
Showcasing the best that Bowdoin student filmmakers have to offer has been standard for the Film Festival, but the event itself has not always been as dependable.
Up until the early 1990s, the Film Festival was a marquee event every year on campus. Bowdoin lore is full of stories of students queuing outside Pickard for hours waiting for tickets, and close battles between students for victory at the awards show. The vestiges of these award shows remain on the walls of Sills.
But film production classes were dropped at Bowdoin and the film festival along with it. This had negative ramifications on the student body as a whole, as well as film aficionados in particular.
Lucas Delahaney, a first year whose film "Styx & Stone" is nominated in a number of major categories, feels the impact of the lack of film production classes firsthand.
"I felt it was really important to try and contribute and to just be a part of it for the sake of keeping film alive at Bowdoin. I think the festival should act as a rallying cry for all of Bowdoin's filmmakers. We need to say, 'Hey! Quit ignoring us! Give us some resources!'"
"Film studies is the only area of the arts here at Bowdoin where students cannot learn how to express themselves through the medium they are studying," said Welsch. "We offer hands-on instruction in music, theater, dance, photography, sculpture, painting, drawing, and creative writing?but no filmmaking courses."
With luck and administrative involvement, however, this could change.
"Just as soon as the college sees fit to authorize a new faculty position in the field, we will be able to offer such courses, to round out the offerings in the minor, and (ideally) to start work on a film major at Bowdoin. This is long overdue," said Welsch.
Supporting the film festival this year is not only great entertainment and a way to cheer on your friends and classmates, but also a way to tell Bowdoin that the growth of film on campus matters. This is how Bowdoin as an institution continues to grow and strengthen its academic environment, ultimately attracting a wider, more diverse student body.
And that, unlike the Best Picture winner, is something we all should be able to agree on.