UM students to swim in a sea of shorts

Starting tonight, students at the University of Miami are invited to swim in a sea of shorts as the Miami Short Film Festival kicks off its week-long festivities celebrating the best of international and local short films.

Partnering with UM’s School of Communication for the second year in a row, the MSFF opens at 7:30 p.m. with the Red Carpet Gala at the Bill Cosford Cinema, where a multitude of films ranging from the creative to the comedic and the artistic to the authentic will be shown.

“The strength of the MSFF is that it is eclectic and diverse,” said Sam Grogg, the dean of the School of Communication. “It presents a broad program of short screen works that reminds the audience of the incredible range and variety of opportunities for artistic expression in the moving image media.”

Filmmakers from around the globe will showcase their talents at some of Miami’s top cultural venues, including the Tower Theatre in the heart of Little Havana and the Miami Beach Cinematheque. Films also are being shown at the Miami Art Museum, Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium, Miami Children’s Museum and the Cosford Cinema.

Short films, generally 30 minutes or less, are “more of a challenge,” said William Vela, founder of the MSFF.

“To come up with a beginning, middle and an end in less than 30 minutes is more artistic and has more of a personality,” he said.

In 2001, Vela created the annual production when he discovered there was a need for short film representation in Miami’s cultural affairs. At his first event, the 50 chairs set out for the exhibition were quickly overwhelmed by 350 bodies struggling to find a place to watch the 17 films showcased that night. The initial success of Vela’s efforts launched a series of partnerships that led to the establishment of the MSFF in 2002.

Now in its seventh year, the MSFF’s recent partnership with the School of Communication provides the UM community with a wealth of opportunities to advance short film works throughout the city. In addition to hosting five nights of films, the School of Communication will offer panels and filmmaking workshops.

Alumni, faculty and students are involved in all aspects of the festival, from submissions to judging to marketing and publication. Dia Kontaxis, an associate producer of the MSFF and a motion pictures professor, has been working with students to publicize and coordinate the events, which run through Sunday.

A few new categories have been added to the festival, including “Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today,” which showcases the best of student films from the high school and college levels.

“We opened the category for new students because it is difficult for them to compete,” Vela said.

Three UM students have been selected to present their films in the festival. They are Koen Thiry, Daniel Gordon and Christina DerHagopian.

Another new category this year is about homosexual relationships. “Hit the High Notes: Boys and Boys, Girls and Girls” will be shown at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Tower Theater.

Except for opening night, UM students can see all of MSFF’s featured films at the Cosford free of charge. Just bring some popcorn and enjoy. An opening night ticket is $7 for students.

For a schedule of film screenings and more information about the festival, go to http://www.miamishortfilmfestival.com.

Cosford Cinema:

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November 16, 2008


Jessica Macias

Contributing News Writer

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