On Thursday, April 27 at 7 p.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center For The Arts, the annual Cinefest film competition took place. Submissions to enter the festival were open for all class years and even non-majors, however, it must be a film made within a Fairfield University FTMA class in the current academic year. 

The night opened up with student presenters Jacen Janueski ‘25, Alexa Sewell ‘26 and Paolo Valencia ‘24. While providing comedy and background of what consisted of creating student-made films, they also played a trailer to set the tone of the event. It showed bits of clips from each of the eleven chosen shorts, including their titles.

Furthermore, a “Director’s Cut” video was put up on the big screen in which the student-filmmakers were asked questions about the process and their ideas behind their projects. Finally, the night began. 

The screening portions were split up into three separate blocks, which allowed the presenters to not only give explanation behind each section but highlight a smaller group of all of the producers and directors at a time.

Screening Block One

The first film of the night was “Sinners and Saints” by Annika Johnson ‘23. Within a religious boarding school, a roommate, boyfriend and nun are questioned in a murder investigation following the death of a girl. As the roommate tries to understand who could’ve killed her and what exactly happened, she gets hurt in the process.

After the credits appeared and the applause subsided, “La Misere” by Michael Bottega ‘23 and Diego Brijaldo ‘23 started to play—and the audience erupted with laughter. In the incredibly short film, a young student is studying at his local cafe when he knocks over his croissant on the floor. His extended, depressed reaction that stays with him throughout the hours and even days after the incident brought a smile to every watcher’s face.

“People Are Crazy” by Danielle Santora ‘23 was the next short. This film was inspired by Billy Currington’s popular tune and showed a young man giving a eulogy about his recently departed, older father-figure. Within his monologue, flashbacks of their talks at the bar appear on the screen.

Brijaldo’s second film of the night, “Separados,” was inspired by a true story of immigration, custody battles and poor health. While a mom of two fights for her other son left in another country, she feels held back by the hospital and court system. 

Screening Block Two

“The Book Club” by Jared Smith ‘23 was another comedic success and seemed to be the perfect film to start the second block. The short video took place in, you guessed it, a book club. In the small group of readers, the variety of characters put in the same room allows for a perfect mix of conflict and resolution. 

Senior Katharine Creamer’s film, “A Weekend at Sam’s,” showed the story of two half sisters spending strained time together. Sam, the older sister, is clearly uninterested in talking to her younger sibling and uses work as an excuse to hide in her room. By the end of the second day, however, the two girls bond and plan their next weekend together.

“After Hours Elf” by Michael Boudrot ‘26 was inspired by his roommate’s fear of Elves on the Shelves, as explained in the “Director’s Cut” video. The short throws watchers by surprise as the main character leaves his office building late on the night of Christmas Eve, finding an evil Elf on the Shelf sitting on the floor waiting for him.

“Exodus” by Emily Merola ‘24 was the perfect film to end the middle portion of the event. A nun who is very heavily involved in the church seeks to find “leeches,” a group that the pastor continually talks poorly about in his sermons. After her interaction with the leader of the group, however, she can’t help but second-guess her alliance with the church or her interest in the members.

Screening Block Three

“Capt. Calvin” by Morgan Doll ‘23 was posed as a narrative documentary, similar to the popular film “The Martian”. As an astronaut in space, Calvin knows his ship is going down and decides to record his final moments.

Senior Mary Bevans’s dystopian short, “Solace” poses a post-society life in which a young girl lives on a ship alone, surviving through trading rarities. Once finding pictures of someone’s old life, she finds peace in imagining herself with them. 

“Betrayed Apprentice: A Star Wars Story” by Janueski is a proposed short that follows the popular story of “Star Wars.” While the recognizable introduction and soundtrack are the same as its inspiration, the plot creates a different plotline than the scene before but includes similar themes such as betrayal and action. 

The night ended with a video from film majors currently studying abroad and the voting component for the “Audience Choice Award”. This was done via QR code and concluded with a total of 215 votes. Overall, it was an extraordinary experience and an outstanding showcase of what Fairfield film students are capable of. 

Cinefest Category Winners:

Best Sound Design – “Separados”

Best Production Design – “Exodus”

Best Screenplay – “Sinners and Saints”

Best Cinematography – “Exodus”

Best Editing – “The Betrayed Apprentice: A Star Wars Story”

Best Director – “Exodus”

Audience Choice Award – “Separados” (27% of total voters)

Best Picture – “Exodus”

About The Author

-- Senior I Executive Editor I English Creative Writing & Digital Journalism --

Brooke is a senior English Creative Writing and Digital Journalism major, with minors in Film, Television & Media and Editing & Publishing. She plans to pursue a career in screenwriting after graduation.

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