Making movie magic from scratch

A new club for budding filmmakers hosts its first festival

by Tom Horgen

It has begun.

The University used to be a barren wasteland for students hoping to learn about film production. You could talk about movies all day long in film studies classes, but getting behind the camera was only a dream.

Earlier this semester, a student club answered the cries for a film production option. While the University Motion Picture Club couldn’t provide an actual major, it did create a haven for aspiring filmmakers to discuss, create and screen their celluloid creations.

Now, the club is rolling headfirst into more uncharted territory. The club will sponsor its first film festival Friday through Sunday, in which it will screen 24 films (both 16mm and digital) made by its members and other local moviemakers.

“We decided that our club needed some integrity and to establish that integrity we needed to have a festival under our belts,” said club President Corey Birkhofer, a senior who created his own filmmaking major by combining film studies courses at the University with production classes at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

The festival will include a couple feature-length movies and a variety of shorts. Two of the fest’s most notable entries are cross-cultural documentaries.

Rachel Raimist, a graduate student and instructor at the University, focuses on the struggles of female hip-hop artists in her documentary “Nobody Knows My Name.” While in “From There to Here,” local filmmaker Vu Tran retraces his voyage from Vietnam in the early 1990s to a Hong Kong refugee camp – where he stayed for three years – and then on to the United States.

Other films will vary from the serious, such as Birkhofer’s “9/12,” a critique of xenophobia after Sept. 11, 2001, to the hilarious, such as “Justin’s Birthday Dream Vol. 3,” an animated short parodying 1980s icon He-Man.

The festival’s title, “24 FPS Fest,” is a play on the speed of conventional film (24 frames per second). Here, the acronym doubles for “films per semester,” indicating the number of films the festival hopes to show at the end of every term.

Though the club is only a couple months old, Birkhofer said he doesn’t think it is too soon for a club-sponsored film festival.

“We’re definitely moving fast and biting off more than we can chew,” he said. “But that’s the nature of the beast with filmmaking. You want to learn from as many mistakes as possible.”