Brandeis Television (BTV) showcased 19 student-made films in its film festival, dubbed Sundeis, on the evening of Thursday, April 20. Sundeis, held in the Wasserman Cinematheque, screened works under four categories: Experimental, Sci-Fi, Comedy and Drama. Each film offered something fresh and intriguing.
In the Experimental category, Noah Harper ’19 used Adobe After Effects to create a short film that immerses viewers into the realm of four of Giorgio de Chirico’s paintings: “The Disquieting Muses,” “The Melancholy of Departure,” “The Evil Genius of a King” and “Melancholia.” Each painting’s linear perspective enabled Harper to zoom in, out and through each scene, allowing observers to explore a two-dimensional medium with their eyes.
BTV Secretary Rachel Goldstein’s ’18 “Study Break” depicts a common thread among college students: stress. A student named Nadisha incessantly studies for and stresses over an upcoming exam. However, her nerves take control and she ultimately ends up in an empty lecture hall. Surely, several audience members could relate.
In the Sci-Fi bracket, Ydalia Colon’s ’19 “Deadly Sour” illustrates the outcome of a scientist’s fatal invention. The scientist takes basic gummy worms and adds a radioactive sour ingredient to them. As the title suggests, this new formula is a recipe for disaster.
The film starts with two people watching a movie in a Village residence hall lounge. Colon does a great job of adding drama and suspense when the camera zooms in on the water edging closer and closer to the fatal bag of candy. Cue the dramatic music. Colon also uses special effects to display sparks when the water first meets the gummy worms and to show the Village going up in flames.
The image of the Village ablaze generated laughter from the audience. The special effects were pretty realistic and executed in a humorous way. The special effects in conjunction with the playful plot and funny mad scientist character made this film a part sci-fi, part comedy success.
The most enjoyable and entertaining category was Comedy. Ryan Bowen ’19 “Stranger than Brandeis” is hilarious. Bowen puts his own twist on Jim Jarmusch’s “Stranger Than Paradise.” The story is set at and makes fun of Brandeis. The film starts out in black and white, no dialogue and with James Vincent McMorrow’s “Get Low” playing. This piece is funny from the get-go. A Hungarian student, played by BTV President Mica Unger ’17, visits her cousin at Brandeis. Unger takes a winding, bizarre path to get to her cousin’s dorm room in East Quad. She nonchalantly rolls her suitcase up and down the Louis Brandeis statue that rests on a hill and weaves through the trees outside of Usdan. All of that just to get to East.
The script is brilliantly written and Unger plays her role very well. She awkwardly hugs her cousin and some of her first words are along the lines of, “I hate the establishment, home and the patriarchy.” She also angrily ponders Thanksgiving’s purpose and existence. Unger says, “What even is Thanksgiving? I’m not thankful for anything.” And when she meets a new person she declines handshakes, reason being that she is Hungarian. The audience laughed when two guys who are leaving for a Brandeis soccer game chant “Get them gavels going” in monotone voices while robotically pounding their fists against their other hands. Unger leaves after not even a full day—she got annoyed and bored with the patriarchy.
The funniest films seem to be the ones that incorporate Brandeis into them. Goldstein’s “11:30” details the social awkwardness around hooking up at Brandeis. The two protagonists, played by Jacob Kleinberg ’18 and Elana Kellner ’19, are at a party and have feelings for each other but have no clue as to how to express themselves.
Kellner spills her drink, which conveniently lands near Kleinberg’s crotch area. Kleinberg compliments Kellner on her beauty and Kellner echoes the same compliment back to Kleinberg with awkward hesitation. Just as Kleinberg and Kellner are about to kiss, the film ends. Goldstein does a great job at emulating party vibes: she blurs their discussion when the music gets way too loud, nails the changing colored lights and frames the two characters to evoke sheer awkwardness. Goldstein’s bloopers display the two characters messing up on the kissing scene, which makes the reality of the purpose behind this film even more true and hilarious.
The actors received the script only a few nights before shooting and then finished shooting in a couple of hours in one location, a Ziv suite. “There was a lot of laughter! Sometimes it was hard to not make jokes and laugh because the film was supposed to be so awkward and funny,” Goldstein added.
Another film titled “Study Break,” but this time by Kleinberg, reveals the peculiar things that go through Kleinberg’s mind when he procrastinates. Kleinberg acts in his own film, with Katharine Mound ’19 behind the camera.
Kleinberg, who is studying with a friend in Goldfarb Library, takes a break and discovers a nearby dumbwaiter lift. He climbs inside and ends up in a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant. Mound does a spectacular job at capturing all of the vital elements of Chuck E. Cheese’s: She zooms in on the wide, blinking eyes of creepy mascots, the coin slots on various game machines and tiny children wired on sugar and games. He ultimately takes the dumbwaiter back to Goldfarb, where his friend questions his prolonged absence. The film ends with two young twin boys getting out of the lift in Goldfarb.
“As much as I’d love to say the idea arose from some profound inspiration, it really just appeared out of nowhere. I guess it came from a fantasy that somewhere at Brandeis there is a portal to Chuck E. Cheese’s. I also have always been intrigued by the dumbwaiter in the library,” Kleinberg said.
Last up: Drama. Drama can be hard to pull off. Over-exaggeration or over-complication can make a drama a hit or miss. However, Christine Kim ’17 created a powerful film about learning to speak up. The protagonist becomes entangled in a tough and uncomfortable situation with a friend and her crush. There is cheating, but not on the protagonist’s part. The protagonist initially agrees to keep the cheating a secret even though she knows it’s wrong. Kim does a great job at abruptly cutting clips so that viewers can understand that the protagonist is merely imagining what would happen if she did voice her beliefs. The film concludes with her saying, “No, no I’m not OK. I have something to tell you.”
An unconventional coming-out plot involving two lesbians unfolds in Unger’s “You Should Have Told Me.” The two protagonists have been college roommates for four years, and one of them comes out to her parents at the dinner table, with her roommate beside her. She makes up a disease that her roommate is supposedly suffering from. The roommate storms out of the house and locks herself in the car. She explains to her roommate that she made up the sickness to get money from her parents, money that would instead go toward a spring break trip for the both of them. Her roommate rips the check in the end.
The quality of this film was incredible and so was the acting, including the parents’ performances. Additionally, Unger’s choice to shoot the argument in a car was smart because the evident tension between the two characters could be felt even stronger within the close confines of the car.
“I first dreamt of Lily’s coming-out speech and loved the idea of having someone come out to their parents in the most rambling, clearly excessive way possible (I think I had her use the word “lesbian” at least ten times). I wrote the movie around the monologue, and tried to keep the locations and characters to a minimum,” Unger said in an email to The Brandeis Hoot.
Sundeis had been in the works for months and all of the intensive organizing ultimately paid off. “There’s an incredible amount of talent on campus, but there aren’t too many vehicles through which Brandeis filmmakers can publicly showcase their hard work,” said BTV Events Chair Rachel Zhu ’18. “Our main goal was for students to walk out of the theater feeling like their directing, cinematography, editing, writing and acting were recognized.”