UNM-VC students present fourth annual Leading Edge Film Festival


In the beginning, it was lights, camera, action. Now it’s time to push play on the fourth annual Leading Edge Film Festival.

Julia M. Dendinger-News-Bulletin photo: Ready for action and the upcoming Leading Edge Film Festival are the members of the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus Media Arts Club. Pictured, in front, from left, are Kathy McCord, club member; Jessica Montoya, club founder and former president, and Erika Saiz, the current president; in back, from left, are Alexa Wheeler, MAC faculty advisor; member and past treasurer, Monica Morales and Chase Kayser, MAC vice president.

The festival, produced by the UNM-VC Media Arts Club, will give students and the public the opportunity to view student-made films on the big screen, Wednesday, April 24, as part of the campus’s 2013 cultural series.

The film festival is free and open to the public, and MAC is providing free popcorn, cookies and lemonade for the event. Other refreshments will be available for purchase.

There will be three showings — 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. — all in the Student Community Center, located on the south side of the campus.

Alexa Wheeler, the MAC faculty advisor, said the festival began four years ago in order to give student filmmakers a venue.

“The campus had all kinds of cultural events and we wanted to try a film festival,” Wheeler said. “We have gotten very favorable feedback from past audiences. It’s great to have a venue where students can highlight their work and have it be seen up on the screen, see their projects come to fruition.”

The festival is also an opportunity for members of the public to see something they might not be used to.

“Some of the experimental films, people say they don’t get. But they are sparking some really good conversations about art,” she said. “It’s OK to not understand something and still respect it. Most everyone walks out with something they can relate to.”

Attendance of the festival has been increasing every year, Wheeler said, with last year’s student numbers topping every other cultural event offered on campus.

And the members of MAC have taken charge and ownership of the festival, the advisor said.

“The club began because of the event. We felt since it’s a student film festival, it should be produced by students,” Wheeler said. “They work very hard on this.”

The film entries will be judged and a first, second and third place will be awarded and there will also be a fan favorite selected by the audiences after viewing the films. The awards will be given out at the evening screening.

Wheeler wanted to encourage everyone in the community to attend the showings.

“We have a good commitment from the high schools and we would like to encourage other students to come,” she said. And as a word of advice, Wheeler said viewers should be aware that the films are not rated.

“Just so people know, not all the films may be appropriate for all ages,” she said. “I think the worse there is is some rough language, no nudity.”

This year there are between 20 and 25 films entered, ranging in run times of a minute to 10 minutes. The films will cover six genres — documentary, experimental, comedy, drama, horror and sci-fi.

MAC President Erika Saiz is entering a serious film that documents the life of her best friend who passed away. Monica Morales, the club’s past treasurer and member, is doing a similar project about her brother using a combination of still photographs and video.

The other film Morales will be presenting is a mash-up of footage of her dog running through a field and footage of Kid Rock in a similar setting.

Saiz and Morales also collaborated with MAC Vice President Chase Kayser on a comedy film that highlights his dancing.

New to filmmaking, student and ceramic sculptor Kathy McCord said she has always been interested in and involved in “bleeding edge” technology, so making her own films intrigued her.

“My work has always been very visual and sensual,” McCord said of her sculptures. “Film is a way to express that but in a nonverbal way. My experimental film adds the elements of time and sound to my work.”

Sponsorships for the festival are also available. If an individual or business is interested in sponsoring the festival, contact Alexa Wheeler at alexa08@unm.edu.

For more information on the festival, go to www.unm.edu/~dmavc or alexawheeler.wordpress.com.

-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.