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UMN Film Festival provides platform for aspiring filmmakers

Student Unions and Activities is now accepting submissions for the Festival’s second year.
Image by Mary Ellen Ritter
Although the festival is just under two months away, there is a month left to submit applications.

Student Unions and Activities (SUA) at the University of Minnesota is accepting submissions for its second UMN Film Festival until Feb. 26.

The festival, which takes place on March 16, features a variety of student films, giving the University’s aspiring filmmakers a unique opportunity to showcase their work on a local stage.

Isabella Maldonado, head of the event, said participation in the festival can serve as great motivation for new filmmakers who may not know where to start.

The event allows filmmakers to get audience reactions for their films, see what their work looks like on the big screen and meet others going into the field, according to Maldonado.

Abdimalik Ahmed, co-winner of last year’s award for Best Performance, said the festival is a safe space for students to create work that does not need to be perfect or high budget to be accepted.

“Without all that pompousness, we can enter softly,” Ahmed said.

Prior to submitting his film to the festival, Ahmed said he had no experience in filmmaking, though he dreamed of pursuing it.

“I’d always felt that I needed to make the first thing perfect,” Ahmed said. “That kept me from making anything.”

Robbie Wichterman, winner of Best Film and co-winner of Best Performance at last year’s festival, said despite having experience with filmmaking, he still felt that he benefited from being a part of the festival.

Both Ahmed and Wichterman said they first heard about the festival from a classmate who suggested they make submissions. Ahmed added he received encouragement from his professor, who encouraged him to submit a film he made for class.

“She told me, ‘If you just make something, the next thing will be so much easier,’” Ahmed said. “Having that push really helped me finally get over myself and make something.”

While many difficulties exist in planning a large-scale event like this, Maldonado said the most difficult aspect of the planning process is getting people to attend.

SUA has been diligently advertising the festival across Instagram and Facebook, as well as pushing for it to be advertised directly in film classrooms.

“We just want to make sure that as many people that are interested know that it’s happening,” Maldonado said.

Jay Radke, who had not pursued filmmaking until last year’s festival, got a group of friends together and collectively submitted a film to the festival.

Now inspired to pursue a future in film, Radke said students with even minimal interest in film should consider participating in the festival, whether it is to submit a film or just watch.

Maldonado said a Q&A session during last year’s festival gave filmmakers the opportunity to give the audience insight into their creative process.

During the Q&A, Radke said he remembered an audience member who asked several questions about the basics of filmmaking, and this experience showed him the simple power of making an event like this open to the public.

Maldonado said the festival is ultimately an exciting, once-a-year chance for University filmmakers to share their passion projects with members of their own community.

“It’s honestly just very inspiring,” Maldonado said.

All University students are welcome to make a submission or simply come watch the festival in March.

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  • Ray
    Jan 22, 2024 at 1:39 pm

    Where can one acquire tickets for the film festival? My girlfriend and I both became ecstatic upon learning of the festival.

  • Lisa Hutchinson
    Jan 22, 2024 at 12:32 pm

    Please provide a link to learn more and find out where to submit! Thanks, Lisa