Hollywood screenwriter Mark Valadez to visit Reality Bytes

Mark Valadez
Mark Valadez

The NIU Department of Communication is preparing to raise the curtain on its popular Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival in Cole Hall 100.

Free and open to the public, the 14th annual festival will feature student-film screenings from 9 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, and Wednesday, April 15.

Screenwriter and NIU alum Mark Valadez will be the special guest speaker from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Thursday, April 16, the festival’s final night. Winning films will be announced that evening as well.

Valdez’s credits include work as a staff writer on the TNT series “Perception” and more recently on Fox’s “Gang Related.” He also has written for comic books and published four short novels in the popular “Fright Time” series for young readers. In college, he adapted Stephen King’s short story “Popsy” for the graphic novel horror anthology, J.N. Williamson’s Illustrated Masques, published by Gauntlet Press and reissued in trade paperback by IDW.

Professor Laura Vazquez, who teaches digital media production and theory in the Department of Communication, started the film festival 2001. Vazquez serves as director of the festival, which was created to give film students the opportunity to competitively screen their work.

“Over the last few years, Reality Bytes has grown significantly. This years festival is a continuation of that growth and is shaping up to be one of the more impressive collection of films,” Vazquez says. “The films are exceptional, with high production values and well-crafted stories.”

FestPoster-xVazquez and her students watched 75 films this year and carefully selected 18  for festival screening. They also have a good deal of local support resulting in many great door prizes to be given away to festival attendees.

The selected films vary from comedy to drama to animation and come from the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia and the United States. They all focus on strong storytelling that crosses national boundaries.

Each film category includes a “Best in Show” cash prize award.

Some of the works include “Two and a Quarter Minutes,” “Godong’s Party,” “Shote Akfur,” “I Need My Monster,” “2057,” “Chasing the Rabbits” and “Cotton Dreams.”

More information about the festival is available on Twitter @NIURealityBytes and Facebook (where fans can join the Festival Event) or by contacting coordinators at niurealitybytes@gmail.com.

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