Free and open to the public, the 15th annual festival will feature student-film screenings from 9 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, and Wednesday, April 6.
Actor, filmmaker and producer Kevin Mukherji will be the special guest speaker from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 7, the festival’s final night. Winning films will be announced that evening as well.
Mukherji, an NIU alumnus, has worked alongside a variety of noted actors and directors in his career, including Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal,” and Ashley Judd and Luke Perry in John McNaughton’s “Normal Life.” Mukherji also directed the feature psychological drama, “Death And Taxis,” and the feature documentary, “American Storytellers,” with John McNaughton, Harold Ramis, John Sayles and Forest Whitaker. His television credits include “Without A Trace,” “Arrested Development” and “Shameless.”
During his NIU visit, Mukherji will talk about his current documentary project on animal and human rights titled, “IAMYOU.”
As a student at NIU, Kevin studied under (professor emeritus) Jeff Chown, and they kept in touch on Facebook over the years.
“When Jeff heard Kevin was producing a documentary, he suggested him for Reality Bytes,” said NIU Board of Trustees Professor Laura Vazquez, who teaches digital media production and theory in the Department of Communication.
Vazquez started Reality Bytes in 2001 and serves as director of the festival. It was created to give film students the opportunity to competitively screen their work.
“The films get better and better each year as the festival grows in renown,” Vazquez said. “We have two outstanding high school films that we are screening, and we continue to get submissions from around the world.”
Vazquez and her students watched 50 films in all this year and carefully selected 17 for festival screening. They include films from Australia and Russia, as well as from film schools across the United States.
Audience members will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite films each night, and a “Best in Show” award will be given in each film category. Patrons will also be given the chance to win door prizes from businesses in the DeKalb area.