On March 26, Real to Reel movie theater in Johnson City held the seventh annual Made in East Tennessee Film Festival.
The ETSU Media and Communication’s Radio/TV/Film Program hosted the festival to showcase 10 films created by ETSU students. The productions captured a variety of subjects, including death, nature, family, psychology and daily life. The films fell into a number of different genres such as documentary, horror and more.
Though submission was not limited to RTVF majors, each of the filmmakers took the classes offered by the department, which provided them the opportunity to work alongside other creators and share their messages with an audience.
“What takes my inspiration to a new level is getting to work around some of these filmmakers, who are amazing,” said Jared Smith, the filmmaker of “Video Paradiso.” “I’m so happy I got to know them and talk with them, and I want to work with them in the future.”
One power of film lies in the ability to unite the story with the people watching. The filmmakers’ choices have a large part in creating this effect.
One film of the night, “Monkey,” was a documentary on the civil rights intimidation incident that occurred at the 2016 Black Lives Matter rally on campus.
“I wanted to capture that pure rawness, so we didn’t use crazy effects or anything,” said Caleb Neal about the visual techniques he used for the film. “By setting one of the cameras up-close to the subjects, we tried to bring the viewers closer into the story.”
Being able to invite people, and even strangers, into the emotion of even the most personal event or story was a main goal for many of the students.
Senior Jordan Clark’s film, “Rudy’s Watches,” told the personal story of his late grandfather’s life and quirks by looking at the physical items which he left behind.
“I worked really hard on this film, and it was a really emotional process for me,” said Clark. “To see other people getting impacted emotionally by it is really cool. My process throughout the whole thing was that I wanted to connect in some way with people, and I think that because everyone can relate to having someone close to us pass away before we want them to the film is emotionally resonant.”
After the viewing, seven awards were presented to chosen filmmakers to celebrate their art and encourage them to pursue their dedication to it. The films, and even the festival itself, both have this power to bring people together.
“I am surrounded by amazing art and artists within my own department, and I see their creativity everyday,” said Cheyenne Good, and ETSU senior who attended the festival. “Coming here helped me see the innovative art happening in other departments, and that’s very exciting to me.”
The festival was a perfect display of the artistry being produced by ETSU students – opening the eyes of attendees and viewers not only to people’s stories but also the ways in which they choose to articulate and share these stories.