The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has always dedicated a portion of its programming to showcasing the talent of local filmmakers, and this year is no different. In fact, six short films made by UCSB students were chosen to run at this year’s festival, including several Film & Media 106: Crew Production projects. Artsweek gives you the lowdown on the Gaucho-made films that made the grade.

“Aquarius of Hearts”

Writer-director Cameron Alexander’s “Aquarius of Hearts” is mesmerizing on both a narrative level and a technical level. The beautifully shot film seems to occur inside a young man’s dream, where he meets a mysterious woman on the beach. Alexander and editor/composer Patrick Lawler does a great job of capturing light for that dreamy, hazy feeling that is perfectly accompanied by the film’s score. This is definitely a work not to be missed.

“Awkward Courage”

Third-year film & media studies major Ryan Turner’s short romantic comedy, “Awkward Courage,” won the Audience Award at the I.V. Digital Video Festival last year, and was also featured in the “Ellison, I Love You” tribute made by students at the end of last school year. Set in I.V. and on campus, you’re sure to recognize some fellow students (and professors). Sasha Feldman stars as Unnamed Freshman, a shy student smitten with the beautiful girl in his film class… only she barely notices she exists. Fellow film majors, I’m sure you can relate.

“Hail Hitler”

With a title like “Hail Hitler,” it’s no surprise that third-year Hunter M. Daniels’ animated effort has captured a good deal of attention; thankfully, it’s for all the right reasons. Daniels’ story follows Adolf Hitler in another universe, where he has been forced to drive a taxi cab to make ends meet. Find out what the Führer is all about.


Fourth-year director Leigh Mierke’s “Theoryland,” written and produced by senior Lisa Shapiro, features an interesting and well-executed mix of live action and animated footage. Inspired by “Alice in Wonderland” as well as a catalogue of all the big names in film theory, “Theoryland” revolves around Becca, a young filmmaker who, stressed out by her upcoming premiere, awakens inside of her own film. “Theoryland” boasts incredible animation and top-notch compositing, far beyond what you’d expect from a student project.

“We’re Trashed”

Lastly, the animated “We’re Trashed” was a project produced for the film department’s GreenScreen course, Film & Media 118: Sponsored Projects, where works center around environmental issues. This film’s unique style is derived from the fact that the trash at the center of the film’s plot — human waste is killing off the world’s animals — is comprised of, well… real trash. The students working on this film, written by alum Evan Koehne, picked trash up off our local beaches to create a certain level of whimsy (not to mention truth). Alum Becky Oxborrow directed the piece.

UCSB alum Ainara Aparici’s “Pacifier” will also screen at the festival.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs Thursday, Feb. 4 through Sunday, Feb. 14, and these particular short films will all be screened at Victoria Hall on Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. You can purchase tickets at