Silent but Screaming

UCSB’s 15th Annual Reel Loud Film Festival

by Stephanie Cain

What do silent short films, live musical acts, and art galas have in common? “Cinematic Fusion,” according to UCSB’s 15th Annual Reel Loud Film Festival. Challenging filmmakers to step outside the traditional boundaries of sight and sound, this year’s celebration draws 14 student films together with musicians, artists, and awards.

“The Reel Loud committee pushed hard to expand the festival to dramatic arts, the College of Creative Studies, and art. It’s not just for the film major,” festival producer Emily Lu said. “We want to acknowledge the whole college community and contribute to creativity collectively.”

The Reel Loud festival showcases silent films set to live musical accompaniment. A mere six-and-a-half minutes each, all the films were required to be shot in 16mm, and directed and edited by the filmmaker. In order to gain acceptance into the festival, it was mandatory for the film to advance the theme in an innovative and stimulating fashion.

The Cinematic Fusion theme “allows for interpretation rather than a set definition,” said Lu. “We’re looking for experimental, not just in the story line but in all aspects of the film.”

In this vein the Reel Loud committee selected a film that juxtaposes colorful objects, an animation of rubber bands, and an adaptation of Cinderella and Edgar Allan Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death,” among others. Outlandish subject matter finds a home in Reel Loud, too, such as Sister Mary Catherine’s Happy Fun-Time Abortion Adventure, about a Catholic nun’s journey to abort her love child, and I.V. Foot Patrol, which depicts the police unit as the Nazi regime. Drama excites in El Sol Es Bello, the story of a fatally ill socialite whose maid, brother, and friend vie to inherit her pricey necklace. Fans of sci-fi will enjoy Float On, which brings to life a comic-book story of a boyfriend’s quest to rescue his kidnapped, superhero girlfriend.

The theme doesn’t end with the films. Each live band adds to the fusion, but there will also be live acts between every few films. One such act is UC San Diego graduate students Ross Karre and Jeffrey Trevino’s Synchronism Project, a non-traditional art exposé using three large, circular screens connected to a keyboard to link images with sound. DJ Soulspeak and various dancers will complement the pre-show art gala, which features photography, drawing, and painting.

Each year the Golden Reel Award is presented to the film that exhibits the most balance between unity, creativity, and interest. This year, Reel Loud recognizes the other vital aspect to the festival by introducing an additional award for Best Score. Judging will be done by a panel of film experts and enthusiasts, including the S.B. International Film Festival’s Roger Durling and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment’s Annie Schmidt.

The 2006 Alumni Inspiration Achievement Award, which honors Film Department alumni excelling in the industry, ties directly to the festival. It pays tribute to the three initiators of the original Reel Loud: Sandra Joy Lee, a k a “the roller girl,” Chris Ball, and Dave Cash, a victim of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. As part of the celebration, the committee is flying Cash to Santa Barbara and paying for his accommodations to ensure his enjoyment in the aftermath of the disaster.

Reel Loud is more than a public debut of amateur talent. It serves as a support system for filmmakers, from students to professionals who spend countless hours and put in endless effort on film projects. “I produce the show because I want to celebrate the efforts of these filmmakers,” Lu said. “It’s a festival for them.”

4•1•1 UCSB’s 15th Annual Reel Loud Film Festival is Friday, Maya 26, at 8 p.m., in UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Tickets are $8 presale or $12 at the door. The pre-show art gala begins in Campbell Hall at 6 p.m.

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