Every September, the Cinethusiasts Film Club holds one of their biggest events of the year: a trip to the South Dakota Film Festival in Aberdeen, S.D. This past weekend, 34 students and two professors made the three-hour trip to the festival for a weekend of all things film.
Three students’ films were part of the film festival this year.
“Eternally Damned,” a black comedy about two friends trying to save their friend from hell, was co-written and directed by senior Steven Sherman. “The Repressed,” a thriller about an unrepentant hit man, was Chris Dasinger’s senior film last spring. “Pictures,” a horror film about a mysterious photograph, was directed by MSUM alumnus Patrick Wynne.
MSUM film professor Tom Brandau also had a film at the festival. Brandau’s “The Cleaning Lady,” about an African-American maid working in Baltimore on the day of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, won a jury award at the festival. Brandau originally created this film for the 1968 Film Competition for the Minnesota Historical Society in 2010.
“It’s always nice to receive recognition for your work,” Brandau said, “and I’m really very happy the film won the jury award, and I know the cast and crew will be very excited too.”
The guest of honor this year was cinematographer Adam Greenberg, who in his career of more than 50 films shot everything from “T2: Judgment Day” to “Ghost” to “Snakes on a Plane.” Greenberg spoke candidly about his career in Hollywood, enjoying the freedom of his retirement. He said that “95 percent of actors are selfish,” and that Arnold Schwarzenegger is very smart, but can’t act.
There were also representatives of the Screen Actors Guild who gave a presentation about acting on Saturday morning.
This is the fifth year MSUM has attended the film festival, but for several of the group members this year it was their first time to Aberdeen, such as professor Jason Halprin, the new adjunct in department.
“It’s a really great festival for students, because it’s small, intimate, and it spends a lot of time talking to the filmmakers,” Halprin said.
Eight freshmen and members of the film/theater living and learning community also attended the film festival for the first time. For many of them, it was their first film festival ever, so they soaked up everything they could learn.
“I learned a lot about lighting, how much time it takes to get the quality you want,” said Kenzie Anderson, a freshman film student.
Some of the students’ favorite films included “You Don’t Know Bertha Constantine,” a short film about a woman who defies the law and buries her husband in the South Dakota Badlands, and “Age of Champions,” a feature documentary about contenders in the National Senior Olympic Games.
Besides the films, the freshmen enjoyed hanging out with each other and upperclassmen film students, and attending the afterglow parties on Friday and Saturday night, where they were able to meet several of the award-winning filmmakers.
BY CONOR HOLT