Featuring a “virtual reality arcade,” a discussion panel on the role of female film score composers and several distinguished keynote speakers, the lineup for the 2017 Ivy Film Festival is slated to cover a breadth of topics.
In total, the festival includes two discussion panels, two advanced screenings of upcoming feature films and three keynote speakers: M. Night Shyamalan, Barry Levinson and Ezra Edelman. The keystone of the week, however, is the screening of the “Official Selection,” 25 films submitted by undergraduate and graduate student filmmakers across the globe and curated by a branch of IFF, the student group that organizes the festival. This year’s selection, chosen from an array of over 300 entries from 40 different countries, will be screened in three blocks on Friday and Saturday.
“We think working with student filmmakers … captures a different approach to filmmaking (than working with industry professionals),” said Solveig Xia ’17, co-executive director of IFF. “As students, we want to promote other students’ work.” In choosing its official selection, IFF aims to feature films from a diverse set of genres and regions, seeking out “relevant and topical films,” said Co-Managing Director Madeline Chin ’17. One of the festival’s goals is to “celebrate diversity and … bring in people with different perspectives,” Xia added.
A notable addition to this year’s festival is IFF X VR, a new initiative linking the festival with the emerging medium of virtual reality. As part of this initiative, the festival will feature a “virtual reality arcade,” in which participants can use a variety of equipment to view films in virtual reality, created by both student and professional artists. “There’s so much exciting potential for virtual reality (to be used) in the arts and the sciences,” Chin said. With the inclusion of this novel technological aspect of the festival, IFF hopes to “reach a wider audience on campus,” she added.
As a separate event, IFF X VR will also be screening Planned Parenthood’s “Across the Line,” an immersive virtual reality experience following a woman’s travel to a Planned Parenthood clinic for an abortion. The festival brought the experience to campus to highlight “a really important issue, but also to really show how (virtual reality) can be used as a medium to understand the experiences of others,” Xia said. “It creates a lens to promote empathy and mutual understanding.”
Apart from the addition of virtual reality, IFF has expanded significantly since its founding in other ways. For example, the IFF Satellite Festival was established two years ago, extending the festival’s screenings to 16 other universities — two of which are international. “The core of our mission is to give a platform to student filmmakers,” Chin said. “Expanding that beyond Brown University was a really big goal of ours.”
The IFF team, headed by Xia, Chin, Co-Managing Director Sienna Giraldi ’18.5 and Co-Executive Director Oakley Friedberg ’17, has been working since last summer to put together this year’s film festival. “You start out with a small idea,” said Xia. “And seeing it grow, and seeing things actually happening — every little step of the way feels like a celebration.”
IFF is Brown’s annual student-run film festival, taking place this year from April 10 to April 16. Founded in 2001 by Justin Slosky ’03 and David Peck ’03, the week-long festival serves as platform to highlight and celebrate student film. Events will take place primarily in the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, with a few individual events in Salomon Hall and the Avon Theatre. All the festival’s events are free and open to the public, though a few will require tickets.