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Ivy Film Festival screenings, panels zoom in on diversity in media

This year’s festival features advanced screenings of several recent films, including ‘Trainwreck’

Ivy Film Festival will host an array of events this week, including screenplay readings, workshops and film screenings, illuminating issues of animation and diversity in the media.

This year’s festival aims to provide “a diverse selection of events that would appeal to a varied audience,” said Elizabeth Woodward ’15, IFF co-executive director.

Some events offer perspectives on approaches to filmmaking. For the first time, IFF has arranged a panel on animation in the media, during which students will be able to “talk to animators and those who work on the technology side of filmmaking,” said Supreeti Sharma ’15, IFF co-executive director.

Matthew Frost, a filmmaker who specializes in editorial films intended to go viral through online magazines, will also lead a workshop. The event will focus on techniques for creating short films catered to specific media and audiences, Woodward explained.

Other presenters strive to lead thought-provoking discussions on diversity and representation in media. “We wanted to address issues (of diversity) and tried to bring more female filmmakers and filmmakers of color,” Sharma said.

After an advanced screening of “The Sisterhood of Night,” a film directed by Caryn Waechter, the director and one of the actresses will discuss the role of women in filmmaking. “The team is fully composed of women,” Woodward said.

Michael Schultz, a renowned African-American filmmaker and a member of the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, will also lead a workshop followed by a screening of the movie “Dosa Hunt,” folowed by a question-and-answer session with director Amrit Singh. The film follows Singh and musicians such as Yeasayer on their quest to find the best-tasting dosa in New York.

IFF will also host a pre-screening of “Trainwreck,” a recent film directed by Judd Apatow and starring Amy Schumer. “We’re lucky to get ‘Trainwreck’ because the film just finished production, and we’re one of the few places to see the final cut,” Sharma said.

“It seems like a lighthearted comedy that will be entertaining,” said Alice Sun ’16, adding that she’s looking forward to attending the screening.

In addition to securing a variety of filmmakers to facilitate workshops and discussion on campus, IFF has partnered with local venues such as the Dean Hotel and Avon Cinema.

The Dean  will showcase student films from last year’s festival, Woodward said. IFF’s partnership with the Dean is “another example of our growing presence in Providence as an important cultural event that draws lots of people to the Brown campus … but also extends beyond the Brown campus,” he said.

At the heart of the festival are the selected student films and screenplays. IFF received more than 250 submissions for four separate competitions: the domestic undergraduate film competition, graduate school film competition, international film competition and screenplay competition. Twenty-six films and 12 student screenplays were selected.

Unlike in previous years, this year’s festival will showcase the chosen student-written screenplays through live readings.

Sharma said she was excited to have student actors and members of the selection committee, who are already familiar with the screenplays, come together and perform.

“It was like reliving the festival through a completely different lens. … It was a very fresh take on this experience,” Sharma said, adding that the readings lend an opportunity for students to visualize how these readings can be transformed into a film at an early stage of the process.

Woodward noted that as IFF has grown continuously over the years, it has expanded beyond the Ivy League. IFF has reached out to other universities with emphases on film, such as Northwestern University and the University of Michigan, and will show its official selection of student films on four different campuses including Harvard and Princeton.

Sharma expressed hope of branding the organization as a “young” and “forward-thinking” platform for future generations of filmmakers and creative thinkers.

“This year, we’ve come to realize that our long-term goal for IFF is to become the Sundance of student films,” Sharma said. “Every year, IFF is becoming more sophisticated and consistent.”


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