Two-day Indie Film Symposium will provide Rider students a public forum in which to showcase their work and provide an opportunity to interact with members of the television and filmmaking community. The event culminates with the Film Festival competition on March 3.
Sean Ramsden

Grab some popcorn and turn down the lights, because the third annual Rider University Film Festival is set for March 3 in Sweigart Auditorium. Sponsored by the Film and Media Studies Program and the Department of Communications and Journalism, the Indie Student Film Festival and Competition will provide Rider students a public forum in which to showcase their work and provide an opportunity to interact with members of the television and filmmaking community.

The Rider Film Festival was the brainchild of Dr. Cynthia Lucia, associate professor of English and director of the Film and Media Studies Program at the University. Her “hard work and inspiration” gave rise to the event, according to Dr. Barry Janes, professor of Communication.

“The Film and Media Studies Program, and Dr. Lucia especially, long ago recognized the growing student interest in studying film at Rider,” Janes said. “Students come to the program with a critical eye and real appreciation for film, and we soon recognized a budding group of young and inspired filmmakers were in our midst. What better what to display their work?”

The Rider Film Festival is actually the culmination of the two day Indie Film Symposium on March 2 and 3, a mini-course dedicated to narrative and nonfiction independent movies. Over the course of the symposium, students will screen such seminal indie films as Slacker (1991), Easy Rider (1969) and Roger & Me (1989), all selected for their role in sparking particular types of movies. They will also enjoy panel discussions led by various scholars and filmmakers, including award-winning director Jonathan Caouette, whose autobiographical documentary Tarnation (2003) will be shown.

The symposium concludes with the 9 p.m. Indie Student Film Festival and Competition on March 3, for which Janes will serve as faculty moderator. The Film Festival will feature a wide range of film and video projects created by students and independent filmmakers who are enrolled at Rider, and is a juried exhibition of their work. Students need not be affiliated with Film and Media Studies program to enter, but must submit their work by February 22. The March 3 screenings are open to all.

“We’re seeing some really good stuff,” Janes said. “While some of the students are majoring in Radio & Television and have received some formal training here, there are quite a few who have developed and refined their skills in high school or through a good deal of practice. Judging by the films submitted so far, these young people have skill and talent.”

Janes said that the committee has received about a dozen submissions so far, but expects that number to swell by the deadline.

“From what I’ve heard from students, there are a few who used the final weekend to put the finishing touches on their projects,” he explained.

Films will be entered into four categories: documentary, narrative, open/experimental, and TV broadcast program or feature. Length of submissions was limited to three to five minutes, and all entered works will be evaluated by the following criteria:

  • Overall creativity, 10 points
  • Originality, 10 points
  • Technical merit, 10 points
  • Performance and directing of actors, 10 points

The highest score a film or video can receive is 40 points, and the entry with the highest score in each category will be declared the winner. Janes said the growth of the Film Festival is evident by the entries they committee has seen.

“We are definitely seeing more interest since the first year, receiving more inquiries from students about the festival and how their projects might fit in,” he said. “It’s really encouraging and exciting to see the growing interest and the level of talent that’s out there.”