Ivy Film Festival Presents a Microcosm of Life and Our Everyday Struggles
By Mercedes Vizcaino, Contributing Writer, May 17, 2017
Founded in 2001 by two undergraduate students (David Peck and Justin Slosky) from Brown University, the Ivy Film Festival has become one of the most well-known international platforms for students to showcase their films. The School of Visual Arts recently hosted a New York screening at their Beatrice Theatre (333 West 23rd Street) of the Ivy Film Festival’s 2017 Official Selection of eleven films. Poignant and provocative material from undergraduate and graduate student films, curated from over 300 submissions and representing 40 countries, were brought to the screen, not just to entertain, but to stimulate thought, understanding and compassion through controversial subject matter.
One of the four films that stood out was Walk For Me, director Elegance Braton’s 12 minute film addressing a contemporary coming out story set in New York City. The first scene begins with an African-American teen, Hassan, having breakfast with his mom. Immediately the audience is drawn to the dynamic between mother and son. She’s the authority figure in his life. Portrayed as a tough security guard, financial provider, and guardian for the teen, she tries to impose her attitude and will on his spirited nature. Striking him when he ceases to listen to her advice, the audience can’t help but sympathize with Hassan. We then witness Hassan’s transformation into Hanna, an ultra-glam girl that struts her catwalk moves and voguing skills in a secret ball; his mother ultimately discovers his duality. Although only 12 minutes in duration, the film captures the essence of struggling with sexuality and self-discovery at a young age, as well as the need for a support system.
The comedy Self-Checkout is an animated 4 minute hand-drawn short that parodies the inevitable technological advantages and disadvantages of the modern world, especially food shopping. The subject taps into the universal funny, but frustrating situations people experience at the self-checkout line. Based on a true story by director Lindsey DeMars.
In My Father’s Room, South Korean filmmaker, Nari Jang explores the effects and trauma afflicted by childhood abuse. Through a packaged box metaphor, we see how the protagonist progresses through life and how the pain and anger, hidden at first, manifests later in her life with a mix of stark revelations and confusion. Beautifully executed and expertly drawn in black and white animation, sans dialogue, confirming it an unnecessary element to drive the narrative.
Lastly, Raquel Korman’s documentary, Forever Home, struck a sentimental chord with the audience. Korman takes a candid look at the struggles an empathetic couple in California face after adopting ten children from the foster care system. Most of the children came into the household as babies and have learned to adapt, love and care for one another, while some can’t seem to bond with their brothers and sisters and see themselves as outcasts. There are stories of physical abuse, neglect and drug abuse from previous foster parents and biological parents—truly a gripping story about the realities of children in foster care.
The Ivy Film Festival provides student filmmakers and screenwriters exposure to a wider audience and a network of like-minded emerging creative voices, and was founded to foster the next generation of filmmaking talent. For more information on the Ivy Film Festival click here.
Cover: Image from ‘Forever Home;’ courtesy of Ivy Film Festival.