The Film Studio, a student organization aiming to encourage UCSB film production, hosted the second annual Santa Barbara Digital Film Festival on Saturday at Campbell Hall.
The annual event, in its second year, showcases student filmmakers interested in digital filmmaking.
Shaleena Reyersbach, CEO and director of The Film Studio, said she was pleased with the outcome of this year’s festival, despite its challenging lead-up.
“It was difficult to select only 10 films from the amount of submissions we received,” Reyersbach said.
Of the 10 films selected for inclusion in the festival, the highlights were Ryan Turner’s “Ready…Fight!,” Joe Haldeman’s “Goodbye, Goose,” Justin Faerman’s “The Hidden Coast,” Anthony Kozlowski’s “Keepsake” and Tony Ung’s “Sweetness.”
“Ready…Fight!,” a hilarious and slightly bizarre comedy, evoked the biggest response from the audience and took home the Judge’s Choice award. Written and directed by Ryan Turner, the film portrays an insane person’s repeated attacks on a man, whose only warnings come from technology (an elevator or car stereo, for example) around him.
“The Hidden Coast,” one of two documentaries in the festival, films the marine environment of Naples, the coastline just north of Santa Barbara. Tackling the serial depletion of the area’s marine life as a result of commercial fishing, the film effectively acts as a call-to-action, encouraging audience members to advocate the push to protect the area. With beautiful visuals and expert editing, “The Hidden Coast” raises the bar for student documentaries in years to follow.
“Goodbye, Goose,” a darker entry, tells the story of Iraq War veteran Nathan Goose (played by Ryan Sherman) whose life is turned upside-down when he is called back to serve. This film was one of the festival’s strongest entries, with emotional visuals and narration complementing each other beautifully.
“Sweetness” was filmed as part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s 10-10-10 competition — where students are given 10 days to completely script, cast, shoot and edit a 10 minute short film — but thankfully bears no evidence of its hasty production schedule. The film tells the story of a young con artist (played by Ibrahim Albridge) who acts on the advice of a slick stranger and targets the naive senior citizens in a retirement home.
Taking home awards in the Best Actress and Audience Choice categories, “Keepsake” was a much more contemplative film that focused on the aftermath of a break-up between two college students (played by Gregory Shelby and Angela Chandra). To complement the film’s melancholic narrative, Kozlowski deploys hazy, dream-like visuals that effortlessly express the characters’ heartache to the audience.
Other festival winners included Ryan Turner’s “Smile” (which won Best Score for Leo Kaliski’s music composition) and Matthew Oquendo’s “Shell-Shocked” (winner of Best Screenplay, and Best Actor for Garrett Smith’s performance).