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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Inaugurating the Indie Louies

Published: April 9, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

Brandeis will experience not one but two independent film festivals this month, with the first of the two, the Indie Louies, kicking off its inaugural festival this weekend.

According to the festival’s organizers, the festival’s mission is pretty straightforward.

“We’re people who like watching movies and making movies,” said Indie Louies committee member Oren Nimni ’11. “We have fun doing that.”

“The mission [of the festival] is to bring filmmakers closer together,” fellow committee member Illona Yuhaev ’11 said. “Some filmmakers are actually going to crash on our coach. It allows filmmakers to get to know one another. When you’re a filmmaker you need to find people … and meet potential colleagues.”

Yuhaev and Nimni, along with four other core committee members, organized the Indie Louies in the climate of uncertainty that surrounded the SunDeis film festival, whose future was up in the air after it lost money last year. Though it was eventually settled that BTV would organize SunDeis in conjunction with the film department, the six members of the present Indie Louies committee decided to form a new film festival anyway.

Yuhaev believes that having a completely student-run festival will allow for greater freedom.

“A department is associated with a university—they have to worry about donors and alumni. They don’t want to be controversial. But we’re a student organization,” said Yuhaev.

For its first slate of films, the committee has organized a program consisting of 21 shorts, 19 of which are live-action and two of which are animated.

Approximately two-thirds of the submissions received by the festival came from Brandeis students. The remaining submissions primarily came from film students at other universities. The only restriction placed on filmmakers was that all shorts had to be less than 30 minutes in length.

The submissions vary widely in terms of content. Many of the Brandeis entries have a distinctly Brandeisian flavor. One, for instance, revolves around the kidnapping of the statue of Louis D. Brandeis, while another functions as a PSA about Sherman shopping. Yet there were also shorts of a decidedly more serious nature—for instance, one submission served as a criticism of the ostensibly rigged Zimbabwean election of 2008.

The Indie Louies also sponsored a 48-hour film contest, the submissions for which had to be written, cast, filmed and edited in a 48-hour span. Four stipulations were made: the films had to be of the disaster genre, feature a character named Boris Hoolihan, utilize a shovel as a prop and use the line “If they move, kill ’em” as part of their dialogue. Two submissions were received, both dealing with apocalyptic themes. One submission, “The End,” details the events that occur when one student wakes up only to find the entire campus nearly abandoned and under lockdown. The central character at the core of the other submission, entitled “Still Alive,” wakes up in a world in which everyone but him is frozen in place; with a new sense of power, he takes advantage of this situation only to possibly receive his comeuppance in the end. It’s remarkable to realize that these shots were shot in such a short span of time—they’re as well-constructed as many of the other shorts submitted.

The festival has partnered with the Punk Rock and Roll Club’s presentation of their South by Southwest Brandeis concert series in order to provide a weekend filled with indie entertainment. Friday night, Phantogram and DJ Rupture will be playing at Chums, while Freelance Whales and Best Coast will be performing on Saturday night.

The duo BriTANick, best known for their hilarious send-up of the typical Oscar-baiting film in their viral short “Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer,” will also be present on Saturday afternoon at Chums, where they will be performing sketch comedy and presenting a short film of their own titled “Eagles are Turning People into Horses.”

Yuhaev sees the two as a perfect example of the collaborative atmosphere she hopes to establish with the infant festival.

“These are two guys who met each other in film camp in high school and went to NYU together. That’s what you need—filmmakers you can click with,” she said.

The films, which total more than four hours in length, will be presented in two-hour blocks on Friday and Saturday in the Schwartz Auditorium. Following Saturday’s screenings, an award show—hosted by Brandeis alum Anthony Scibelli ’09—will commence, at which awards will be given in thirteen categories.

These categories range from the traditional—Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and the like—to the less traditional, like the “ROTFLMFAO” award for humorous submissions and the “Artsy,” awarded to the best movie that does not feature a linear narrative.

The judges for the awards consist of a panel of film professors, one filmmaker from New Orleans and Brandeis staff members who have experience with video and cinematography.

Though this is the first festival organized under the Indie Louies banner, its organizers hope that it will have a long life.

“We’ve already applied for the funding [for next year],” committee member Tom Charging Hawk ’10 said.

“It will be an annual event,” Yuhaev said without a hint of hesitation.