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Emerson-Made Film Shorts to Whet Audience Appetites at Bright Lights

Emerson alumna Emily Pietro's Departure preceded the Bright Lights Film Series screening of Arrival on January 26. This semester, Bright Lights is piloting a program matching Emerson community film shorts with feature films. Courtesy photo

Before Earth was visited by spacecraft in the Amy Adams sci-fi film Arrival at the Bright Lights Film Series screening last Thursday, a little boy was visited by otherworldly visitors in a sci-fi short directed by Emily Pietro ’16.

The name of that film? Departure.

This semester, for the first time, all films in the Bright Lights series will be paired with short films made by the Emerson community, which will play before the features. Wesley Emblidge ’17, who works for the series, curates the shorts.

“Every pairing will be different, but we’ll try to have some parallel [to the feature film],” Emblidge said.

Watch Departure

Juxtaposing Arrival and Departure was a no-brainer, between the diametric titles and similar genres, the Media Studies major said, but not all films in the series will be so easy to match.

The Best Job in the World, by MFA students Guangya Zeng and Jinglin Li, will be screened before Newtown. Courtesy photo

Take the second film in the series, showing Tuesday, January 31. Newtown is a documentary about the aftermath of the nation’s largest mass school shooting.

“It’s a very kind of tough subject, and we have a couple of these kind of more [serious] documentaries we’ve been showing, and that’s been tougher to match,” Emblidge said.

For Newtown, Emblidge said he decided to go with a doc that would act as a kind of “antidote” to the grim subject matter of the feature. Audiences on Tuesday first will be treated to The Best Job in the World, by MFA students Guangya Zeng and Jinglin Li, about a woman who works with dogs.

The only real criteria for the shorts are that they be made by an Emerson student, alumnus, faculty, or staff member, and that they be under 10 minutes long.

“It’s hard to make a film that short, so when people do pull it off, it’s impressive,” he said.

Since all Bright Lights screenings are free and open to the public, the pilot initiative is a way to get Emerson films seen not just by the Emerson community, but also potentially by Greater Boston audiences, he said.

Feder said showcasing Emerson work has always been a goal of the series, but the initiative to make it happen this semester came from Emblidge, who has worked for Bright Lights for three semesters.

“It’s a significant commitment, between the call for entries, screening shorts, watching all the features (in order to pair appropriately with shorts), print traffic, and then promotion,” Feder said in an email. “This is as close to a capstone experience in cinema exhibition as I’ve seen in my decade at the College and I’m immensely proud of Wesley for taking this on.”

A submission form is available on the VMA webpage. Entries are due February 28, at midnight.

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