In its first festival featuring only student-produced films, Gallagher Theater is hosting a two-day event that will highlight and reward the creative work of University of Arizona filmmakers.
The showcase begins Thursday with "foto.synthesis: a social justice film showcase" and will continue on Friday with "Not Yet Rated."
Katelyn Sadler, a UA media arts major and Honors College student who developed the idea for foto.synthesis – which is now part of her honors thesis – began working with Gallagher Theater to unite the events.
"This was a way to combine my extracurricular involvement in social justice programs with my major while also making the link between fine arts and social justice," said Sadler, who has been interning with UA's Social Justice Programs and Center for Student Involvement and Leadership.
Each event will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in the theater, which is located at the Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd. Thursday's event is free. Admission on Friday is $3. Both are open to the public.
"Showing student work is one of the new areas of focus here at Gallagher," said Jill Burchell, who manages the theater.
During foto.synthesis, UA fine arts students in music, theater, visual art, dance and other disciplines will perform improvisational pieces before a backdrop of films and images.
Then, the audience will be called to participate to recreate a Hollywood film "to create live, rough-cut multimedia performance," Sadler said
Microphones will be set up during the film and participants will be encouraged to pause, rewind and fast-forward the film while interjecting their own lines and songs.
"The program hopes to allow students an interactive way to let their voices be heard, when it comes to the issues that are important to them," she said.
"By channeling these issues into art, a new form of collective and self expression becomes possible," Sadler added. "That is really the goal – to come away from the experience changed, with the sense that someone listened to what you have to say."
After that experiment – or "multidimensional workshop," as Sadler called it – about 10 UA student films will be shown and judged. The foto.synthesis showcase will feature films that delve into a range of issues, such as environmental policies, gender identity, assimilation, African-American history, Afghan-American family rituals and a range of other topics.
The student who wins the competition will have their film screened with about two dozen other UA student-produced films on Friday during "Not Yet Rated."
For Friday, students created films from 45 seconds to 14 minutes in length and in the styles of mystery, animation, documentary, drama, film noir and other genres," Burchell said.
"They're really good," she said.
"I've been so impressed by the films and find them to be inspiring," Burchell said, noting that most films were made by students with little or no training in filmmaking.
"Not Yet Rated" will feature awards for "excellence" in editing, directing, cinematography, music, writing and acting. The evening will also include a "Fan Favorite" and "Best in Show" award.
The event is about making a "media revolution," Sadler explained.
Authoritative media texts, like Hollywood films, too often limit and confine people into one narrative, one identity and one aesthetic," she said. "By using an existing piece of work, and reworking it the way students wish to see, we hope to reclaim the media as our own."