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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Film Department to sponsor improved SunDeis Film Festival

Published: February 12, 2010
Section: News

The annual SunDeis Film Festival will take place in late April and early May and will be sponsored by the Film Studies Department, reflecting Student Activities’ inability to organize the program this year.

Student Activities, usually one of the main organizers of the event, but due to a lack of funding they will not sponsor or plan the film festival this year. This is partially due to the firing of the human resources staff member in charge of coordinating SunDeis according to Avner Swerdlow ’10, leader of the SunDeis core committee.

Swerdlow said this year’s film festival aims to attract more talented filmmakers because prize money will be available to the winners of different film categories. He also hopes to attract respected speakers and alumni to attend and speak on a panel at the event.

Swerdlow, the president of Brandeis TV and an Undergraduate Department Representative for Film Studies, said despite the lack of funding and planning from Student Activities, he is optimistic about the planning of SunDeis.

“I think it might actually be easier. A lot of the people that I’ve worked with on this core committee, are people that I’ve worked with quite often,” he said.

Submissions are open to college students from all over New England and all screenings will be held on campus. The festival will feature one to two weeks of screenings and will end with a day of famous film industry professionals.

Swerdlow expressed optimism in his hopes that SunDeis will be more successful than in previous years, in spite of a limited time frame for planning the event.

“If anything that I’m worried about is the fact that we’re starting late in the game. However, I’m very comforted by the fact that I’m working with the people I’m working with,” he said.

Because of its newfound sponsor, SunDeis will have access to more funds than in the past and Swerdlow hopes that this will help make the film festival better organized. In previous years, Student Activities awarded winners with a ceremonial plaque rather than a cash prize.

Another change to the event this year is that filmmakers will have to introduce their films and engage the audience in a question and answer period after the film. Winners will also have to attend the award ceremony through the end.

This year’s films judging panel will aim to be more impartial and have better organization, Swerdlow said.

Similar to last year, the film festival will also feature a 48 hours filmmaking contest, where participants have only two days to make and produce a short film after given a prompt by the committee.

The SunDeis committee held its first meeting Monday evening, and will hold more regularly scheduled meetings once the group is broken into its subcommittees.

“We’re really heading down a very good path here, and I foresee very few challenges. If anything, I foresee a SunDeis that will hopefully set the bar for other SunDeis [film festivals],” Swerdlow said.

Applications for submissions will be due April 5, and the SunDeis core committee is also looking for volunteers to join different subcommittees. Details about different categories will be announced soon, he said.