Lazarus, a student film submission by Gregory Stasiw ’15
Student contestants participating in the Bowdoin Film Festival’s annual 48 Hour Film Festival project face a number of challenges. First, to find out what genre of film they’ll be working in, such as drama, mockumentary or film noir, they draw slips of paper. Then a panel of judges establishes content criteria for what goes into their movies — this year, for example, each film had to feature a key and a metamorphosis. Finally, the contestants must create their film inside of 48 hours.
Last Friday, the BFS screened this year’s submissions for the student festival. Since the 48 Hour Film Festival takes place in the first semester, BFS president Sarah Siwak ’13 said the event “brings a lot of newcomers.” Technical director Destiny Guerrero ’14 agreed: “It’s always fun to see the freshmen get involved.” The BFS also holds an annual spring film festival to showcase student work.
One of the three submissions for the festival was from two first-years, Sewheat Asfaha ’16 and Bridget Kranz ’16. Their piece, Decent into the Proletariat, fell under the category of mockumentary and/or drama (think Modern Family meets Downton Abbey).
“Writing the screenplay was the most fun,” said Kranz of the process. In order to keep the film in the world of mockumentary, “we gave the actors a lot of freedom,” said Asfaha.
Another submission, Tired, is a film noir submitted by Nicolas Magalhães ’15. At a run time of 2:53, it was the shortest of the submissions but still packed a powerful punch, winning the “People’s Choice” award. Upon receiving the certificate, Magalhães was urged to make a speech. He kept it short and sweet: “Go make movies!” he exclaimed.
The final film, Lazarus, was the winner of the judge’s prize, which was awarded “primarily on the basis of cinematography, narrative and creative integration of the overall festival prop and situation,” according to the festival program.
Submitted by Gregory Stasiw ’15, Lazarus is a silent film shot in black and white. It juxtaposes images of sources of light, such as the moon or the windows of a campus building at night, with images of a man writing a letter to his departed lover, sealing it away and then struggling to release it from his conscious. The only sound in the film is the score, used to express the narrative of the man’s psychological struggle.
“It was fantastic,” said Stasiw of the experience. “It was pretty much the first real film I’ve ever made in my life.”
For Jean-Paul Honegger ’15, the film’s actor, this was the first film in which he has acted at Bowdoin. “Of all the films I’ve been in, it was the most interesting,” Honegger decided, largely due to the film’s silent nature. “I’d definitely do it again,” he said.
The enthusiastic, try-anything spirit of Stasiw and Honneger is precisely what makes the 48 Hour Film Festival worthwhile for the BFS. “I like seeing how people use the prop differently — and seeing people making stuff and having a lot of fun making it,” said Siwak.
Story by Margot Howard ’13