The 14th annual Emerson Los Angeles Film Festival brought together students, alumni, faculty, and community members to celebrate the best in film from undergraduates and alumni, as well as to discuss media and entertainment through a series of workshops.
The festival was held for the first time at the new Emerson College Los Angeles (ELA) in Hollywood October 10–11.
“This film festival is a chance for the Emerson community to reconnect and present the best work of our students, graduates, and faculty,” said Kevin Bright ’76, Founding Director of Emerson College Los Angeles. “Now, with ELA, the festival has a home.”
The two–day film festival kicked off with a screening of Give Me the Banjo, directed by Marc Fields, associate professor and graduate program director in Visual and Media Arts.
“I started teaching at Emerson in 2006. Right away I felt there was a lot of support for teaching full time and finishing Give Me the Banjo,” said Fields.
As attendees climbed the stairs covered in purple carpet and walked beyond the registration tables, they encountered walls adorned with posters of past film festivals. Unlike previous festivals, the atmosphere this year was decidedly different.
“You think of all the years we’ve had a program,” said Patricia Peyton Martell ’84, chair of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. “For the film festival to be able to come home to Emerson in this amazing new center—that’s what I’m excited about.”
On October 11, attendees enjoyed snacks from a hot dog cart and popcorn machine in between film screenings and workshops. Children created animation flipbooks at a workshop led by the animators behind the Netflix series BoJack Horseman. Academy Award–winning editor Jeff Consiglio presented films in 4K resolution.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II author and ELA faculty member Micah Wright discussed the blurring lines between films and video games.
TV personality Tanya Hart and Grey's Anatomy actor James Pickens Jr. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)
Members of Emerson’s Black Organization with Natural Interests (EBONI) presented a discussion on diversity and inclusion in show business featuring panelists including Grey’s Anatomy actor James Pickens Jr. and Traci Blackwell, vice president of current programming at The CW Television Network.
EBONI panel discussion on diversity and inclusion in TV with Cisco Hansen, Traci Lynn Blackwell, James Pickens Jr., Leah Keith, and David Hudson. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)
“It’s awesome,” said Pamela Mora ’16, whose film Disorder was competing in the Best of Festival student competition. “There’s so many things to do and I’ve met a lot of great people here.”
Pam Mora '16, whose film Disorder, was in film festival competition. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)
Films from five student filmmakers were featured as part of the Best of Festival competition. Their films were selected from more than 130 submissions. Dane Shubert ’13 won the Best of Festival student award for directing On Being Sane, a personal documentary exploring mental illness. He was awarded $2,000.
“It's a sign from the gods that I did something right,” said Shubert. “I will be using it to help pay for the gorgeous education that I got that helped me make the movie.”
For the first time in festival history, three films were showcased as part of the Emerson Alumni Film competition. Winners of the competition were Drew Van Steenbergen ’11 and Quinn Marcus ’13 for their work on the short film Alone with People.
Student and alumni film festival winners Dane Shubert '13, Quinn Marcus '13, and Drew Van Steenbergen '11. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)
During the awards presentation, Bright announced a surprise award for Barbara Rutberg ’68, associate vice president of Development and Alumni Relations, and a special prize to be awarded in her name at future festivals.
The Marcia Robbins Women in Film Award was presented to Alison Hammersley ’14 and Shelby Sims ’14, who received $2,500 each.
Before the event wrapped, Bright was already looking to the future.
“This festival is just going to continue to grow,” Bright said. “Next year will be even bigger.”
Emerson Los Angeles Film Festival student and alumni filmmaker participants with Kevin Bright '76, director of ELA, and Anna Feder, staff member in Visual and Media Arts. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)