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The Ackland Film Forum hosted the first part of the Swain Lot Film Festival on Thursday, April 26, 2012.

The annual event showcases the best short films of the 2011-2012 school year produced by media production students in the UNC department of communication studies. The films were selected by a jury.

The event was held at the Varsity Theatre, and admission was free for those with a UNC-Chapel Hill ID and $4 for everyone else. The Ackland Film Forum is a collaboration between the Ackland Art Museum and various departments at UNC. Its purpose is to showcase different aspects of cinema and to highlight the power of film through movie screenings hosted throughout the year.

Planning the event

The first part of the festival lasted from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m and featured 10 short films.

The topics of the films were wide-ranging yet mostly dark: Zombies, a possible apocalypse and suicide were just a few of the dark subjects addressed by these films.

Swain Lot Film Festival Program

  • “Experimental Education” by Justin Ellis
  • “Xenophobia” by Dane Keil
  • “Renholder” by Rachel Garner
  • “The Final Resting Place of Smick Bumley” by Jordan Imbrey and Eric Uglanda
  • “Alien She” by Chloe Keenan and Travis Hall
  • “Not at Home” by Jon Kasbe
  • “Man is Always on the Stairs Between the Plants of Mother and the Field of the Soul” by Jing Niu
  • “Edit” by Aaron Medina
  • “New Burn, Old Flame” by Ethan Henderson and Sabrina Rodgers
  • “A Story About the End of the World (Maybe)” by Alaina Braswell and Hannah McGill

“There’s a lot of similar themes between a lot of them,” said senior Alaina Braswell, the student organizer and emcee of the event. “We were like, ‘All right, we need to throw in a couple of comedies somewhere.’”

Braswell was a part of the jury that selected the films, which was comprised of two undergraduate students, two faculty members and one graduate student.

The planning for the festival began at the beginning of the semester, and students were asked to submit their films for review.

“We actually got more submissions than I thought we would,” Braswell said. Over 50 films were submitted, and the jury spent an afternoon looking over and choosing the films.

Braswell said 18 or so films were chosen for the festival.

An annual event

This is the second year the Swain Lot Film Festival has occurred. A few seniors who have since graduated organized it last year, and Braswell said that because it was so successful, students wanted to try to do it again this year.

However, the festival underwent some changes. This year, the Ackland Film Forum sponsored the event and gave it two nights at the Varsity.

UNC media production professor Francesca Talenti worked with the Ackland to make the arrangement happen. Talenti also suggested that students and faculty work together for the festival.

“[The festival] was just students last year, and then the faculty juried one was done separately, and I said, ‘Well, why don’t we do it together this next year?’ and it’s working,” Talenti said.

Seeing their work on a big screen

“I’m really grateful that we had this chance because I think a lot of people don’t know what the COMM department does and how hard a lot of us work to make these things,” said Braswell, whose film “A Story About the End of the World (Maybe)” was screened Thursday.

“We get so used to showing them in a classroom setting that it’s really great for us to get to see all this work that we’ve done on a bigger screen and in a public setting.”

Junior Justin Ellis said it was “amazing” to see his film, “Experimental Education” screened at the festival.

“Seeing my work and my own image on the Varsity screen was a surreal experience,” Ellis said. “I’ve spent a year working as an usher in a multiplex back in Raleigh, so seeing my own face and name on the big screen was quite a treat. I can’t wait to do it again.”

Take a look at Ellis’ film “Experimental Education” below:

Audience reaction

Sophomore Mary Monastyrsky, who co-starred in “Experimental Education,” attended the event.

“It’s really exciting to see students producing great work,”  Monastyrsky said. “It reminds me that school is more than just tests — it’s about the experience of learning and creating.”

The audience seemed to enjoy the event, Monastyrsky added.

“It seemed like most of the people were either the film creators or friends of the creators, so they all reacted well,” she said. “There wasn’t any booing, which was nice!”

The second part of the festival, which will also feature selected student short films, will be held on Thursday, May 3, 2012. It will take place at the Varsity Theatre at 7 p.m., and admission is the same.

The festival is sponsored by the department of communication studies and North Carolina Public Radio WUNC.

The Ackland Film Forum will host a screening of the documentary “The Loving Story” on Thursday, March 1, 2012.

The film will be shown at the Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street at 7 p.m. Admission is free for those with a UNC-Chapel Hill ID and $4 for everyone else. Tickets are available at the Varsity Theatre box office.

“The Loving Story” depicts the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage in the United States. The film also analyzes the history, drama and current state of interracial marriage and tolerance in the United States.

The Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street

The Varsity Theatre will show "The Loving Story" as a part of the Ackland Film Forum. The documentary takes a look at interracial marriage in the United States. Photo credit: Rachel Bennett

The documentary is being shown in connection with the Center for the Study of the American South’s “Southern Film Series.” The center is also sponsoring the event.

After the film, there will be a panel discussion featuring Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of African and African American studies at Duke University, and Edward Ayers, the president of the University of Richmond and a distinguished historian of the American South. The panel will be moderated by Gene Nichol, a Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law and the director of UNC School of Law’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.

For more information about the film, as well as a symposium on the film that will feature a luncheon with the filmmakers on March 2, click here.

The Ackland Film Forum is a collaboration between the Ackland Art Museum and various departments at UNC. Its purpose is to showcase different aspects of cinema and to highlight the power of film.

Here’s a map with directions to paid parking lots and decks near the Varsity Theatre:

View Varsity Theatre Parking Map in a larger map

The Ackland Film Forum will host a screening of the documentary “Miss Representation” on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012.

The film will be shown at the Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street at 7 p.m., and it lasts 85 minutes. Admission is free for those with a UNC-Chapel Hill ID and $4 for everyone else. Tickets are available at the Varsity Theatre box office.

“Miss Representation” examines how mainstream media often have limited and discouraging depictions of women and girls, in addition to an under-representation of women in positions of influence and power in the U.S.

The film is directed, written and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and was a selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. It features commentary by politicians, celebrities and activists, including Newark, N.J., mayor Cory Booker, actress Jane Fonda and journalist Lisa Ling.

“Miss Representation” is being shown as a part of Gender Week at UNC, which takes places from Feb. 6 to Feb. 10, 2012. The screening is co-sponsored by the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Carolina Women’s Center and the Ackland Art Museum.

The Ackland Film Forum is a collaboration between the Ackland Art Museum and various departments at UNC. Its purpose is to showcase different aspects of cinema and to highlight the power of film.

For more information on “Miss Representation,” watch the trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gkIiV6konY[/youtube]

Event Highlights:

What: Film screening of the documentary “Miss Representation”

When: Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, at 7 p.m.

Where: The Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street

Cost: Free for those with a UNC-Chapel Hill ID, $4 for everyone else. Tickets are available at the Varsity Theatre box office.