This year's Shanghai Student Film Festival was an amazing success. The absolute best thing about this event is that every year we are shocked to see how much the students improve by absorbing what was done the year before and working to outdo previous films. At this point, some films that we couldn't even fit in the festival would have been contenders for 'best picture' at our first festivals.
And then there are the workshops and challenges. For the last three years we've kicked off the festival with the day long '8 hour Film Challenge'. This year, the films were absolutely amazing, and it was a moment of clarity for us film teachers about what we could expect from our students if they were capable of creating such great work in such a short amount of time, what they could do with a few weeks on a project.
One of the highlights of the film starts with a blogpost that I wrote here eight years ago. Someone had introduced me to one of the best short films I'd ever seen, the academy award nominated 7:35 in the Morning and I've been using it to illustrate the economy of storytelling using limited time and budget. Cut to last year, I'd been following 7:35's director Nacho Vigalondo on twitter, and decided to invite him to the festival to be one of our hosts. His enthusiastic reply "OF COURSE" came so quickly that I worried he thought we were the other Shanghai Film Festival. My fears were put to rest after he confirmed his interest and we began negotiating his arrival.
In preparation, our classes watched his feature film Los Cronocrímenes (english title: Time Crimes). Long story short, the students became quick fans (like me) and we had an amazing day learning from him at the festival. I'll never forget this moment- one of my students had the idea to recreate one of the classic moments of Timecrimes, when the 'antagonist' lets the protagonist know that he know he's being watched by miming a pair of binoculars in front of his face:
Even though we didn't take a lot of awards home this year, it was still one of our best fests yet. The speakers were amazing, the workshops were amazing, and we even began to adapt our schedule to include some teacher training in film. Finally, our festival was featured on a local english language program. I love the little set up they give us: