For the first time in two years, students, parents, and teachers gathered last Wednesday night in M-A’s Performing Arts Center to enjoy M-A’s Student Film Festival (MASFF). After working for six weeks to bring their visions to life, students showcased their compelling short films encompassing a wide variety of genres, ranging from horror to action to comedy. 

Sophomore Tommy Cope said he enjoyed “being able to take this idea and vision I had, and actually make it possible and film with some of my friends, and just have a fun experience doing it.” Cope directed and edited the film Tempo, which won the Best Overall award. 

Sophomore Zachary Gosler, Director and Editor of Mission said, “We had a lot of fun with the process, like setting up shots and things.”

John Giambruno, M-A’s Digital Filmmaking teacher, said that one of his favorite things about watching the films is that “the students use some of the editing tricks that I showed them in the fall and it’s great to see because I’m like ‘oh, they’re listening to me!’”

Despite students’ motivation and the skills they learned over the year, creating a film was still a huge challenge. Sophomore Charlie Wall, co-director and editor of Oren, said that filming days were “long days,” and that “it took 9 hours to shoot all of the movie.”

Cope added, “I learned that there is a lot that goes into the production when you’re making a movie. There’s a lot of scheduling and a lot of takes, and sometimes you have an idea but you can’t get it out there because there are things that limit you.” Students had limited time, budget, and resources to shoot their movie. 

Gosler said, “Finding times to film and organizing it is a lot harder than you think.” 

The overall theme for this year differed from years past. Perhaps caused by the pandemic, Giambruno said, “I felt like they had a much darker tone this year. Every year I get horror movie submissions but I felt like overall the films were gloomier and doomier this year. The movies were a lot more introspective and existential, a lot of asking ‘who am I?’ type of film. There were a lot of characters questioning their place in society.”

Horror and thriller films like The Creek, Broadcast, Strange, No Way Out, Suffocating Minds, Green-Eyed Monster, and Bait set the audience on edge. Gripping action films like Tempo, Edna and Chip, and Mission heightened the intensity of the atmosphere while comedies like ipsum, Persnickety, Late, The Test, Oren, and Nonsense offered comic relief. We Come in Peace, the only animated film–and only submission from a student not currently in an M-A Digital Filmmaking class–was vibrant and compelling. The drama Numbers, a film about the devastation of eating disorders, was raw and insightful. 

At the end of the evening, the jury panel of 14 voted for films in four categories: Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, and Best Overall. The audience also voted at the end of the night to determine the Audience Favorite. 

Bela Duffy won Best Editing for her film Numbers.

James Polly, Charlie Wall, and Baron Kadivar won Best Cinematography for their film Oren.

Saya Elisofon won Best Screenplay for her film Persnickety.

Tommy Cope won Best Overall for his film Tempo.

The winner of Audience Favorite will be announced Tuesday, May 24.

Giambruno said, “All my classes this year are so on top of things–they’re just so good. They want to work, they like working, and they like taking what I show them and doing more.”

Overall, the night was a great success that celebrated both the hard work of students over the past six weeks and the techniques they’d learned throughout the year in their classes.

To access the short films refer to the list below.   


In order of appearance:

The Creek, Directed and Edited by Emma Hamlin

Persnickety, Directed and Edited by Saya Elsiofon

ipsum, Directed and Edited by Drew Nelson

Mission, Directed by Zachary Gosler, Edited by Zachary Gosler, Anna Lasky, and Samira Menjivar

Late, Directed and Edited by Tessa Ottley

Bait, Directed and Edited by Gerardo Alonso

The Test, Directed and Edited by Daniel Villa

Find God, Directed and Edited by Conrad Gullixson

Green-Eyed Monster, Directed and Edited by Brooke Fehrenbach

Edna and Chip, Directed by Henry Bei and Edited by Henry Bei and Dylan Bartow

We Come in Peace, Directed and Edited by Enzo Kirkman

Strange, Directed and Edited by Oliver Novak

Numbers, Directed and Edited by Bela Duffy

No Way Out, Directed and Edited by Georges Mhanna

Tempo, Directed and Edited by Tommy Cope

Suffocating Minds, Directed by Max Villalobos and Edited by Miguel Arias and Max Villalobos

Oren, Directed and Edited by James Polly, baron Kadivar, and Charlie Wall

Broadcast, Directed by Raphael Kissell and edited by Raphael Kissell and Gerardo Alonso

Nonsense, Directed and Edited by Ella Dauskardt and Anika Duszynski

Sarah Weintraut is a sophomore at M-A this year, and it is her first year writing for the M-A Chronicle. She enjoys writing projects that have significance to both the M-A and local community and hopes to initiate a conversation with her stories. Some of the topics she is interested in include: education standards, athletics, climate change solutions, and societal issues. In her free time, she enjoys playing water polo, reading, and spending time with friends.

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