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Osprey filmmakers shine at Campus Movie Fest

Andy Moser

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The Oscars may be over, but awards season is still in full swing in Northeast Florida. On Monday night, UNF hopefuls sat in a theater of hundreds as they anxiously waited for their films to be screened at the Campus Movie Fest Premiere hosted by Osprey Productions.

Campus Movie Fest is the world’s largest student film festival. Last week, they gave students all the tools they needed to make their own short films. Out of the 72 submitted for consideration, 16 were chosen to screen, and they mostly did not disappoint.

The student filmmakers covered a wide range of genres from science fiction to comedy, horror, documentary or the undefinable.

­­­Anthony Paul gave us a raw and moving look at adolescent loneliness in A Memoir to Us All. James Donlon shared the recipe for a pasta sauce that would have my Italian grandmother shrieking in pure terror in his absurdly funny and aptly titled sauce.

The Mothman was the only horror film screened, and it was a big swing by its architect Pierce Turner. The genre is a risky one to attempt for anyone, but thanks to striking sound design, execution of classic conventions and chilling atmospheric thrills, Turner’s film pays dividends.

CMF veteran Connor Dolby returned with Imitations, which takes a futuristic premise and seamlessly blends it with a rich, old-timey aesthetic. Another notable was Gabrielle LoSchiavo’s Bunny, a dark, strange and extremely well-shot meditation on ownership that sparks debate.

Connor Dolby’s “Imitations” won the Silver Tripod awards for Best Direction, Best Production Design and Best Performance.

Many others earned their spot on the silver screen Monday night, but not all would be rewarded. The CMF-given Silver Tripod Awards are as follows:

Best Direction: Connor Dolby, Imitations

Best Story: Austin Perkins, Super-Skill Brigade

Best Documentary: Chase Oliver, Hand Out of Pocket

Best Production Design: Connor Dolby, Imitations

Best Performance: Brandon Murawski, Imitations

Perhaps the most-coveted award, though, is being selected as one of the top four films of the year. Those four will go on to compete nationally at the TERMINUS Conference and Festival held June 15-17 in Atlanta.

Imitations, by Connor Dolby

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Connor Dolby is a filmmaker to watch out for. In Imitations, a captured man (an “imitation” as he’s called) must find a way to escape his imprisonment. The imitations, not a far cry from Ridley Scott’s “replicants,” have essentially been recalled, and the fugitives are being hunted down. Dolby’s narrative flow is enhanced by a rich immersion in history with newspapers and a record player living amidst a dimly-lit environment that gets the most out of its copper-colored palette. A fireplace flickers and cracks in the background while our imitation tries to turn the tables on his captor. The result is a suspenseful and finely crafted story that thrives on its attention to detail.

Rendezvous, by Lee Giat

Giat is another returning CMF filmmaker. Last year, his film Maverick dazzled with its visuals, and he surely did the same this year with Rendezvous, which follows a scientist/time traveler as she attempts to save a Nazi-controlled world. The story, while bold to attempt, does feel a bit jam-packed into the tight five-minute confines. However, what Rendezvous lacks in narrative power it makes up for in visual splendor. Giat once again sees a female protagonist taking on a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, and her success his immensely satisfying to watch.

Super-Skill Brigade, by Austin Perkins

Super-Skill Brigade oversees the search for young people with extraordinary powers. Unfortunately, of our four subjects, none of them are very extraordinary. Or are they? Certainly not the Oreo-wielding jock bully, who is literally billed as “Cookie Guy.” Definitely not the guy who lets his muscular shoulders do all the talking. And, apparently, neither is the guy who can read minds, but only in Spanish. But never fear, Ryan Kielmann is here to save us all as the delightfully dull Dave, a master of monotone whose overlong ramblings bore people to sleep. He insists his “powers” be referred to as “super skills” (as “powers” is derogatory in case you didn’t know). Dave is the savior nobody wants and nobody asked for, yet he is without a doubt the hero of this comedy. Brigade doesn’t necessarily shoot for the stars, but is still a wonderfully engaging comedy in its own right largely thanks to Kielmann and his endearing and skillfully calculated mundanity.

Meta, by Luke Loertscher

A film about filmmaking tends to look like a bit of a copout. This one is not. Filmmaker Luke Loertscher gives us the feeling that instead of a desperation attempt as a result of a creative drought, he had a plan for this movie and looked to execute it all along. Whether that is actually the case or not, I don’t know. But if this was truly a last-ditch effort, then he had me fooled. It’s a little bumpy, sure, and it has an interesting structure. Loertscher takes us from the technical side of his process to a barrage of failed interviews for a story idea that takes a back seat to its lack-of-story-idea-but-is-also-somehow-still-a-story-idea? I’m sorry if that made you want an Excedrin. I forgot to mention I’ll be taking home the award for longest hyphenated phrase. But somehow, some way, Loertscher strikes a balance and gives us something that makes no sense, and yet makes all the sense. It works, and I’m still not entirely sure how. But for now, I’m going to chalk it up to its unabashed self awareness and independent spirit.

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Osprey filmmakers shine at Campus Movie Fest