Future in Film festival spotlights student filmmakers at BBC

The young directors and producers shared their experiences with the art of filmmaking. | Courtesy of ASFI Staff

Mhyanif Lozada | Staff Writer

Aspiring young filmmakers from South Florida thrilled guests and fellow students alike with exceptional storytelling at the Biscayne Bay Campus last month.

Taking place on Jan 27 in the Mary Anne Wolfe Theater at BBC, this year’s Future in Films festival was the first to take place at Florida International University as a result of a partnership between the After School Film Festival and the Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver center.

The yearly festival was hosted by the After School Film Institute, a non-profit organization that brings professional filmmakers to underserved communities and teaches future filmmakers about the film industry.

This event also served as a brief look at CARTA’s upcoming film program, which will be unveiled in the coming Fall 2023 semester.

Student filmmakers were invited from various Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe county schools, including Coral Reef High School, Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts, Doral Academy Preparatory School, and Urgent Inc, a creative youth development center.

The event, complete with an awards ceremony for the filmmakers, began after the directors shared a brief synopsis of their films and answered general questions about their craft. 

Students expressed their passion for telling stories through films, whether they are reflections of their personal experiences or making fantasy come alive, as well as their hopes for their future careers.

Paola Perez accepts the Best Directing and Visual Effects award for her short film “Perfect” . | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW

“I like to create works that I feel will resonate with people, that’s why I started making movies in the first place,” said Paola Perez, founder of the CRHS film club whose films were featured in the festival. “There’s a magic in movies that I fell in love with, and I try my best to emulate it in my work.”

Filmmakers submitted their videos in November of last year, which were chosen by a panel of ASFI judges the following month.

The works highlighted in the festival varied from Angeline Martinez’ “A Checkmate Story,” a tale of life-long love told through chess matches, to “i only know how to exist when i’m wanted,” the story of a lonely ghost yearning for love, directed by Brianna Diaz, Taylor Marin Hodge, and Angelica Perez.

Also featured was “Babysitter,” a drama about a babysitter’s chaotic day with the unruly boy she took care of, directed by ASFI’s own filmmaker Suede Sowby.

“We try to treat this like a professional film festival, so students get a sense of what [the film industry] is really like,” said Devin Marsh, executive director of the ASFI. 

After the screenings, the Kopenhaver Center staff gave students an overview of the tools used in media and communication found in the Wolfe University Center.

In the broadcast center and control room, students learned about the behind-the-scenes of televised journalism. | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW 

Carla Zensen, program coordinator at the Kopenhaver Center, spoke about the new partnership between the center and the ASFI.

“Creating partnerships with our community is highly important,” said Zensen. “We aimed to create a sense of belonging to the Panther community for the students, who will hopefully become future Panthers.”

ASFI upholds that artists face more than creative challenges in filmmaking and that young filmmakers should learn how to network within their community, take feedback, and be inspired by others’ art.

“I love the amount of freedom you have, and how it makes you think outside the box. But the film industry is also very competitive,” said ASFI filmmaker and FIU mass communication graduate Ester Nunes. 

“I think this festival gave young filmmakers the space to show their talent, talk about their films, and be appreciated.”

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