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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Student filmmakers bring apocalyptic vision to life for local festival

“Final Moments” will be shown at this weekend’s Z-Fest Film Festival.
Photo Courtesy of Ted Ektanitphong
Photo Courtesy of Ted Ektanitphong

Midterms are nearing, but something far more insidious is coming for the characters in “Final Moments,” a short film produced by a group of University of Minnesota students. 

The seven minute film follows two graduate students, Calvin and Diane, who discover that the end of the world is fast approaching and grapple with how to handle that information.

The film was written, directed and produced by Emily Peters, a senior studying communications. 

“Final Moments” was created for the annual Z-Fest Film Festival, a local short-film competition for which participants submit an original film. The three-day festival kicks off on Friday at Woodbury, Minnesota’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

“Before graduating, I really wanted to do something that would bring us into the filmmaking community in Minneapolis,” Peters said. “Just [to] get our name out there and meet people.” 

She originally wrote the film’s script as a work of flash fiction at just 14 years old. Peters collaborated with assistant director and fellow communications student Ted Ektanitphong.They also recruited two other University students to be director of photography and editor. 

Filming took place at locations at TCF Bank Stadium and in Loring Park and Roseville, Minnesota. 

Though registration for the festival opened in October this year, Peters and Ektanitphong officially entered the film festival in February, just two weeks before the deadline. 

One of the the aspects that makes Z-Fest unique is that it requires participants to produce and enter content within a specific time frame, said Z-Fest coordinator Margie Zdechlik. 

The festival originally only allowed participants ten days to produce their work but has since allowed participants a window between October and February to produce their entries. 

“The idea here is that new and emerging artists can much more likely create a quality product if they have a lot of time to continue to flesh it out,” she said. 

To ensure that participants are creating works specifically for the festival, Zdechlik said each year Z-Fest incorporates a “control element.” Last year, participants had to find a way to include the theme of “fire and ice.” This year, the element was a pair of glasses. 

Sixty-four films were entered into the festival this year and will be screened from Friday through Sunday.

Zdechlik noted that “Final Moments” is the only entry from the University of Minnesota this year. Other university-level entries came from Metro State University and St. Cloud State University, she said.

Of the 64 films, the top ten will be recognized at “Best of the Fest,” an Oscars-like award ceremony that offers different awards such as best screenplay, best actor and actress and more. 

For Peters and Ektanitphong, simply having entered the film festival was something to be proud of. And now, with some out-of-classroom experience in the books, they hope to work together again in the future.

What: Z-Fest Film Festival

When: March 6-8

Where: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 9060 Hudson Rd., Woodbury

Cost: $10-$15

Ages: All

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