The NIU Department of Communication is preparing to raise the curtain on its popular three-day Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival at the Jameson Auditorium, located inside the university’s Cole Hall.
Free and open to the public, the 17th annual festival will feature student-film screenings from 9 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, and Wednesday, April 11. Marquette University professor Joseph Brown will be the special guest speaker from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, the final night of the festival.
Brown is an independent producer of film and video whose research interests include autobiographical cinema, hybrid film and documentary history. He will screen a 12-minute clip from a feature documentary he’s making, “Operation Wolf Patrol,” about eco-activist Rod Coronado and his attempt to end wolf hunting in the United States.
The Reality Bytes film festival was established in 2001 by Laura Vazquez, NIU 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.
Vazquez said this year’s festival features a “collection of really outstanding films” from high school, undergraduate and graduate students across the globe.
“We’ve gotten some interesting films from all over the world,” she said. “I’m very excited about the quality of the films that have come through.”
Of the 60-plus submissions, 16 short student films have been chosen to be screened at this year’s festival, which has seen an increased number of entries from high school students.
“We’ve been running high school films for the last few years, but rarely have I seen this quality of high school filmmaking,” Vazquez said. “I do think we are seeing quite an acceleration in the skillset of a younger generation, and I look forward to seeing some of that work as they mature.”
The selected films vary in genre from comedy to drama to animation and focus specifically on strong storytelling. Each film category will also 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.