The NIU Department of Communication is preparing to raise the curtain on its popular Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival at the Jameson Auditorium, located inside the university’s Cole Hall.
Free and open to the public, the 16th annual festival will feature student-film screenings from 9 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, and Wednesday, April 12.
Christine Dávila, a renowned Latina film festival programmer, blogger and NIU alum, will be the special guest speaker from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 13, the final night of the festival.
Christine Dávila is currently working as a scripted creative executive at Stage13, a digital content company developing and producing short form series, backed by Warner Brothers Television Group’s Digital Networks division. In 2013, she established the nonprofit, Ambulante California, a traveling documentary film festival originated in Mexico by Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, Pablo Cruz and Elena Fortes. She has over ten years of experience in film programming and curating at various quality festivals like Sundance Film Festival, where she has been a programming associate since 2008. She tracks Latino films and the festival scene on her blog chicanafromchicago.com.
The film festival was established in 2001 by Laura Vazquez, professor of media production and theory. She created the festival to give film students the opportunity to competitively screen their work and she serves as director of the event.
“I am especially excited about the level of student involvement in planning and promoting the festival. The committee has planned an exciting program for the 2017 festival that includes films of all genres,” Vazquez said. “We are also thrilled to welcome a very engaging speaker this year, Christine Dávila, who will share her LA film experiences with the audience.”
Thanks to the online film submission system Withoutabox, employed three years ago to streamline the film submission and review process, the film festival has received over 60 submissions from high school, undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States and around the world.
Of the 60-plus submissions, 16 short student films have been chosen to be screened at this year’s festival.
The selected films vary in genre from comedy to drama to animation and focus specifically on strong storytelling. Each film category will include a “Best in Show” award. There will also be a “Best in Show” award for the high school film category. The winning films will be announced the final evening of the festival.