Reel Loud Film Festival Poster

For the 17th year in a row, UCSB’s best student filmmakers will be rendered speechless, as the UCSB Film and Media Studies Department presents its annual Reel Loud Film Festival on Friday, May 23. This year’s festival-which throws silent films together with live music-begins with a gallery displaying artwork by student artists, which will run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. outside Campbell Hall. Doors to the main event open at 7:30 p.m., and the festival itself starts at 8 p.m. Festival entries will be judged by the audience and by a panel that is slated to include The Independent‘s own Starshine Roshell, as well as UCSB faculty member Sage Parker Lang, director Perry Lang, and others.

Valerie Mondo, Reel Loud’s director, said this year’s festival is unique, because a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to UCSB’s Student Counseling and Student Career Centers. Otherwise, the successful fest format continues, featuring short, silent 16mm films accompanied by live musical acts. This year’s theme is past, present, and future cinema, which Mondo said will be incorporated into the festival’s decorations and even in the outfits for the evening. “This year, it’s like the past movies and the present movies are there, and when you go into Campbell Hall, it’s like we’re the future, we’re the new Hollywood and the future of cinema,” Mondo said.

Rachel Hommel, Reel Loud’s publicity director, said the Reel Loud Committee received 23 submissions for this year’s festival, and 13 films made the final cut. She said the films covered a range of topics and genres, and the festival’s student-run committee spent an entire day screening the shorts in order to pick the best program. “We wanted to have a diverse lineup, and so we didn’t just pick all the films that we thought were funny,” Hommel said. “It was definitely a long process, and we really went in depth and went movie by movie and really discussed which films really had what we thought would make a good film festival. I liked a lot of them. I felt like that was the problem, because there were so many good ones and they were by students and they put a lot of time in them.”

Filmmaker and third-year UCSB student Cindy Leu, whose film BeautyVulgarity will be screened during the festival, said her piece deals explicitly with sex, and features an eclectic and experimental style. “It’s a film about sex, and the dualities that come with sex,” Leu said. “I wanted to portray this film [as a] tribute to Hitchcock, because in a lot of his films, you’ll notice things like phallic symbols and vaginal symbols, and I kind of wanted to throw everything in there and have fun with it as well.”

Leu’s film features about 150 takes and was shot entirely late at night with a crew of 16 or so volunteers. Although the festival offers an Audience Award, a Judge’s Award, and various prizes, Leu said she thinks just getting into the festival is reward enough for her. “The fact that I got into the festival and I’m going to get 800 people to see my 16mm film, that’s the most rewarding thing,” Leu said. “I just believe it’s about portraying my thoughts and portraying my message to the audience. I know it’s kind of cheesy, but it’s true.”

Nick Dikas, who was involved with last year’s big winner-Michael Weinreich’s Sister Mary Catherine’s Happy Fun-Time Abortion Adventure-said he chose to enter his film Jesus Blues in this year’s Reel Loud because his past experiences with the festival have been so positive. “It’s great, because it gives us kind of like a target. All the filmmakers here want to be working on something, but this way it gives you an actual deadline, and you know the film is going to be seen,” Dikas said. “And it’s also a lot of fun. The night of Reel Loud is just a blast. Film is kind of a private experience, but at Reel Loud, Campbell Hall is packed with people and everyone is connected to each other, and they’re enjoying the films and they’re just so alive, and the bands really help with that too.”

Dikas said that while his film’s musical accompaniment has not been finalized yet, the film features a familiar topic for fans of Sister Mary Catherine’s Happy Fun-Time Abortion Adventure, since Weinreich also wrote Jesus Blues. “It’s about a little girl who is bored in church and her pastor is kind of a bad guy. He’s kind of an alcoholic and so he sneaks out of church and Jesus appears outside. She follows him and this homeless sax player on a musical adventure : and they bring a lot of soul back to the church,” Dikas said. “It’s something that is not religiously offensive, and anybody can relate to it. It’s just a good time.”

Other films in the festival include such titles as Toilet Paper Caper, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Jerkyll, Motel, Doodle, Necrobiosis, Mustache Maria, Limb Jam, Simplicity, Twigs and Tracks, Just In Case, and Natty Light Year. Mondo said the festival sells out almost every year, and she thinks this year’s Reel Loud will be especially successful because it really captures the artistic spirit of the UCSB population. “This is the creativity of UCSB. It’s not only the creativity of the filmmakers, but it’s people getting together and getting to showcase something at a major sold-out festival,” Mondo said.


The 17th Annual Reel Loud Film Festival runs on Friday, May 23, at 7:30 p.m. at UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Call 893-3535 or go to


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