Next Tuesday, March 22 marks the start of Penn’s annual Student Film Festival, a five–day cinema extravaganza that showcases both student films and commercial films alike. Sponsored by Penn College Houses and the Wharton Undergraduate Media and Entertainment Club (UME), the festival aims to bring the world of movie–making to the Penn community at large. All Penn students are welcome to submit their short films to be featured in the festival alongside this year’s popular and award–winning movies. The festivities start each evening at 7:30 p.m. and continue into the night, so in the chance your six midterms and two papers are preventing you from attending the full shebang, Street has hit the highlights for you.

What To See

If you only choose to attend one part of the festival, you won’t want to miss the evening of Friday, March 25th—the final night and awards ceremony. The festival consists of two preliminary nights where many of the entries are shown, but the final night only shows the finalists from the first two nights. Three general winners are selected (not divided by category), each receiving monetary prizes, as well as an audience favorite who also receives a prize. Though all entries submitted wow the crowds year after year, the finalists are bound to be the ones worth watching.

It’s no secret to Penn students that these winners are often on par with highly acclaimed professional work, meaning the final night always impresses. “I’m excited to see the juxtaposition of student work next to Oscar recognized work,” future cinema studies major Katie Marshall (C’19) told Street. “I think Penn yields such amazing talent so it will be fun to see beginning of career projects compared with award winning ones.”

What To Skip

Though certainly fun, skip the screenings of this year’s popular award winners and nominations, including The MartianDriving Not Knowing and Spotlight. By far the best part of the festival is the extensive body of student work. There are plenty of ways to watch the popular movies from the past year on your own, but the opportunities are far fewer for the student films, so this is where you’ll want to focus your time. The popular movies tend to be lengthy, especially in contrast to the eight-minute student films, so you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck by ditching the Oscar winners of this year and diving into the Oscar winners of the future. 


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