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11 July 2013

Miami Film Festival features student work

What began as an introductory film assignment for senior Maggy Torres-Rodriguez emerged as a piece that was featured in one of last year’s Miami International Film Festival’s (MIFF) series of short films.

The music video, “Someone Else’s Bed,” features a song of the same name by sophomore Justina Shandler. The video tells a story of a girl’s infidelity with close shots and an unconventional use of a handheld camera. The video was filmed around UM’s campus.

Torres-Rodriguez’s video was part of MIFF’s Festival Wynwood Walls Screenings, which screened a series of 20 short films in random rotations throughout the festival. MIFF recognizes filmmakers from around the world in local venues like Regal South Beach Cinema 18 and Eight Street’s Tower Theater.

Torres-Rodriguez submitted her video on a whim to the annual film competition CineSlam, which awards work done by undergraduate and graduate students.

Filmmaker liaison for MIFF Alexander Van Mecl looked through the film listing on CineSlam and saw that “Someone Else’s Bed” was one of the films with the highest number of votes.

“I enjoyed that it was unconventional and had a story without saying much,” Van Mecl said.

Torres-Rodriguez did not win CineSlam, but made such a strong impression on Van Mecl that he contacted her and entered her work into the festival.

Torres-Rodriguez is in awe of how far her first film experience has gone.

“It won’t hit me until I see it on the big screen,” she said.

Torres-Rodriguez’s music video brings Shandler’s original music to life. “Someone Else’s Bed” deals with issues of past love, guilt and regret.

The film student found Shandler’s music on Facebook and felt an instant connection.

“I immediately fell in love with the song,” Torres-Rodriguez said.

Shandler was equally excited and nervous to be in a music video. She liked that Torres-Rodriguez made the project more than an assignment.

“It felt awesome and terrifying,” Shandler said. “The shooting was fun, but I had no idea what Maggy was doing, and why she was asking me to pose the way she did. When I saw the finished product, it all clicked and her genius became very clear.”

Torres-Rodriguez, a motion pictures major, started with small projects in her digital productions class, taught by professor Grace Barnes. In the class, Barnes teaches how to tell a story and how to integrate certain film techniques into a finished project.

“Maggy is very talented,” Barnes said. “I’m thrilled that she not only made a great project, but that she also entered it into the festival.”

Van Mecl does not find it strange that her first film got noticed.

“She has a good eye for composition,” he said. “It had a nice beginning, middle and end from the overall message she wanted to deliver.”

Torres-Rodriguez thinks that the proof of success comes from provocative art, and not solely from recognition.

“If things are visually nice and the story touches you in ways you didn’t think it could, then that’s a successful film,” she said. “It’s those movies that make you stop watching and see life differently. That’s what this art is all about.”