Neumann Inspires Film Festival: A Review

Lights, Camera, Action!

On Friday March 31st, and Saturday April 1st Neumann University hosted its first ever film festival in the Bruder Life Center.

Friday, March 31st

The first night was the shorter of the two. Only one film was shown, finger food was provided, and there was a relatively small crowd. The attendees were all professors or older adults. The only college students attending the event that night were the staff working it, and the group of six I invited along with me to watch The Heart of Camden.

While I did not have high hopes going into the film after being told by professors this might not be a film that interests students, I was pleasantly surprised. This documentary fit the theme for the festival perfectly because the story told of Father Michael Doyle is very inspiring.

The documentary follows Father Doyle, who is a priest who came to Camden, New Jersey, years ago. He dedicated his life to a city that was neglected by the country after its downfall. He stood up for the misunderstood residents and helped better the community by building multiple lots for the neighborhood activities, like a proper school. He spent ten years reconstructing the church where he preached, and his actions brought the community closer together.

This documentary felt like call to action in a sense, Father Doyle inspired not only me to want to help Camden and find the hope in the community like he did, but Doyle also inspired the filmmaker of The Heart of Camden himself.

During the live Q&A moderated by Dr. Joseph Glass, Douglas Clayton revealed how much the film impacted him, “People ask, how has this film affected you? One, now I sponsor a child. Another thing is, it made me go back to mass. I am now attending Sunday mass again.”

Saturday April 1st

Saturday was the main event of the film festival. It was a packed day full of three different screenings of films, and workshops in between screenings homing in on a plethora of different opportunities to experience a variety of different aspects of film.

However, despite the itinerary full of exciting films and new experiences, the theatre failed to fill up much more than Friday. Another common theme was the lack of students attending the festival. Again, even on a day with more activities and a wider variety of films, the festival seemed to appeal to an older audience. A lot of the younger people who attended were the creators of the films being shown, and very few students attended on their own.

The theme for the first block of films was “unique passions.” The screening included five films that ran just over an hour. The film that captured my interest the most was Adding Bells and Whistles to the Odds and Ends by Isabella Facchina.

The film highlights Facchina’s small journal that she uses and shows her unique way of capturing her feelings and experiences. She takes scraps off the street and uses it to decorate a page of her journal when inspired, whether it be a part of a flyer, a wrapper of some kind, or possibly a ticket stub.

What is so unique about this art, other than the process, is that no two pages look remotely the same. Each page is filled with some different oddity; however, the pages decorated with what most consider trash are strangely beautiful and is such an uncommon hobby.

“Reflection” was the theme for the second film block, this screening included six films that tended to be shorter, but still very impactful. The one that caught my eye the most was The Exploding Balloon created by Isabella Putorti.

It follows a set of siblings, an older brother and little sister. It shows life between the two, the older brother buys his sister a balloon. Soon after that good day out with her brother, the sister finds her sibling has committed suicide by hanging himself. And then the balloon that the sister was holding turns into her holding the rope of her dead brother hanging like the balloon once was. She walks around with his metaphorical corpse as she grieves her loss, and the film ends with her letting the balloon go as she comes to terms with the death of her brother.

While a dark film when it came to the content, the film really made you think. The film seemed so happy in the beginning, so the death of the older brother really surprised you. And while you don’t see the sister grieve in a traditional sense, you don’t see her cry and become depressed. She is more in a confused state. The balloon turning into her brother was such a dark, but beautiful metaphor to represent one’s feelings of grief and how it manifests in different ways.

After the first two screenings, I attended a workshop that went in depth in the television process. During this workshop, run by Leigh Pullekines and several students, attendees got to experience what it is like to work on a tv set. There were people in the control room, working the cameras, and in front of the cameras being interviewed and running their own news story.

I got the opportunity to be in front of the camera, being interviewed and running my own news story with a partner. While at first it was nerve wracking to be in front of the camera, I soon felt at ease. The interview went smoothly; however, my biggest problem was anchoring the news story. In the beginning the instructions were very ill-explained, causing us to have to start over three separate times, and people behind the scenes kept raising their hands up meaning you had to turn your head to talk to the camera they were standing behind. When that occurred, it was really easy to lose your focus when you’re in the middle of talking, and often I would stumble while switching and trying to find my spot on the other teleprompter.

Overall, the workshop was a fun experience once you got the hang of it, and I would do it again so I could try out a different position behind the camera instead of in front of it.

The final screening’s theme was “social justice.” This block was comprised of four films that ran longer than the films in the previous two blocks. The film that grabbed my eyes the most from that block was named March for Our Lives by Amaris Manning. The film showed the journey that Baptist Church of Chester took to march for stricter gun laws.

Since Manning filmed the whole time just holding the camera instead of it being on a tripod of any kind, it felt very personable. It felt like you were a part of this pivotal moment in 2018.

After one final workshop and dinner in the dining hall, the most exciting moment of the day arrived, the Q&A with Brad Ingelsby, which was moderated by Professor Sara McDermott.

The script writer talked a lot about his writing process when it came to writing his hit show Mare of Easttown. Ingelsby revealed that it took him eight months to construct the story in his head before he put pen to paper, “I had been thinking about Mare as a character for probably about eight months, but then I had to come up for the ending of the mystery. So, it probably took me about eight months to come up with the story before I even wrote one word, so it took me a while,” he said.

While shooting Mare, Brad and his family moved back to the Delaware County area, and he discussed how aspects of his early life were portrayed in Mare. “A lot of the interiors of those homes, and the things they talked about, and the conversations they had with each other I think certainly were born from a place of experience and history. It was nice to have a genre piece that was also about a community and a place I wanted to portray in an honest way.”

Ingelsby also hinted to another season of Mare if it fits in the story, “I really think in my heart we’ll come back to Mare because there are stories that I’ve written where I say that’s the end of the line for that character. I don’t really know how to carry that person on, or that group of people on. But, for whatever reason I do think that group of characters has another chapter in them. And I think we can give Mare a couple years to build up another terrible trauma that Mare has to overcome.”

Following the Q&A Ingelsby was kind enough to hand out the Best of Fest award to Emma Baiada, who won for her film Old Young.

If you didn’t make the festival this year, don’t fret! Next year Neumann is going to host another film festival.