Student Work Featured at Traverse City Film Festival

Posted on: August 19, 2014

TC Film Festival mainWork done by College of Communication Arts and Sciences and other MSU students shined at the 2014 Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF).

For the first time, the TCFF featured short films produced by MSU students, and festival founder and Academy-Award winning director Michael Moore had some high praise for this work.

"The stuff that these guys have done from Michigan State is absolutely incredible. It's as good as the stuff I've seen from NYU or Columbia and we're really proud to show these (films)," Moore said at a press conference on the opening day of the festival.

In addition to these short films, the College of Communications Arts and Sciences Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab, in conjunction with the Media Sandbox, presented Next, an interactive gallery showcasing media that expands, experiments with, and explodes storytelling through the use of interactive gaming technology.

Each year, the Traverse City Film Festival attracts worldwide films and filmmakers to the Grand Traverse Bay community, and this year it included six short films from MSU student filmmakers, including:

"D is for Dream"
Directed by advertising and arts and humanities major Scott Swanson and winner of this year's Media Sandbox Challenge grand prize, this film explores Detroit's multicultural growth and examines the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. within the city.

"Out of the Box"
A documentary following the 2,800-mile journey made by seven members of the Media Sandbox Street Team as they drove to the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, for spring break while helping underserved nonprofits in four cities along the way by giving each a media makeover. Directed by media and information majors Carter Ellwood and Izak Gracy and written by Media Sandbox Street Team students Carly Belsito and Andrea Raby, both journalism majors, and Elizabeth Izzo, Reid Masimore and Maddie Rosemurgy, all advertising majors.

"Every Two Minutes"
A documentary featuring the stories of sexual assault survivors as they illustrate the struggles surrounding this problem within our society. To call attention to this issue, a group of eight MSU students produced this film to display this problem through the eyes of survivors, advocates, therapists and politicians. Directed by Kirk Mason, a recent MSU graduate with degrees in documentary film production and humanities, the other students working on the film include Laura Swanson, media and information major; Nolly Dakroury, journalism major; recent media and information graduates Jenny Berggren and Carter Ellwood; Ian Siporin, film production and arts and humanities double major; and professional writing majors Anna Myers and Logan Stark.

"A Public Affair"
A short documentary about a young professional too consumed by his work to have a healthy relationship who finds himself in limbo when his fantasy girl comes to life. The film was directed by Margo Sawaya and Ryan Goendyke, written by Andrew Orlando and Zachary Zweifler, and produced by Alexa Keene, Dan Feole and Ethan Weiner.

"Heart Effects"
A lushly painted animated short film of the heart directed and written by Adam Taylor, graphic design graduate student.

Directed and written by recent graphic design graduate Francoise Gagnier, this film examines electroshock therapy during the 1960s.

Recognizing the crossroads of film, art and interactivity as a hotbed for cinematic innovation, the Next exhibit, presented by the GEL Lab and Media Sandbox, showcased interactive game installations and transmedia experiences that explore the expansion of cinema and gaming culture in today's rapidly changing landscape.

"One of the things that games are doing more and more is becoming a part of storytelling, just like movies are an art of storytelling," Greg Kozma, media and information major and program manager for Next, said in an interview with 9&10 News. "It's almost like watching a movie with some input from you to direct where the story is going."

Amongst the participants was MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, who tried the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Beyond all the film watching and game playing, the Media Sandbox Street Team took a step back from the excitement and aided a local nonprofit organization, the Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area, during their time at the film festival. Four CAS students, Andrea Raby, Elizabeth Izzo, Izak Gracy and Shelby Robinson, helped the organization with design, branding, communications and social media, just like the Street Team had done with the nonprofit organizations featured in the "Out of the Box" documentary. The Street Team created a video of their experience working with the Women's Resource Center, which was shown on the last day of the TCFF.

The Traverse City Film Festival began in 2005 to support American cinema as well as promote the idea "One Great Movie Can Change You." The six-day festival features independent, foreign and documentary films at several venues throughout the city. This year's event took place July 29 through Aug. 3.

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