A Mix of French Existentialism, Skiing and a Himalayan Lute at Student Film Festival

What do French existentialism, alpine skiing and a dramyin (Himalayan lute) have in common? These three topics, among others, were the subjects of student-produced short films screened at Bowdoin Film Society Spring Film Festival. Students gathered in Smith Auditorium on Friday night to watch their peers’ three-to-four minute videos compete in the annual competition.

The winning film, A Story Told Twice, follows William Gantt ’17 through a parody of an existential crisis. Gantt restlessly questions the meaning of an ambiguous event while enclosed in a dark room, speaking only in broken French. The audience laughed along with English subtitles of disconnected thoughts strung together by Gantt’s ruthless effort to challenge his mere existence.

The video culminated after just one long night of filming and editing by Martin Bernard ’17 and Jake Reiben ’17.

“We were excited to use a language change to explore alternative experiences in film,” explained Bernard and Reiben of their decision to film in French. The first year duo was thrilled to have won their first film competition on Friday.

The second-place film, Backcountry Brunch – Pancakes, Bacon, Faceshots, directed by Wilder Nicholson ‘16, accompanies five Bowdoin students as they ski the snowy mountains of Colorado. Nicholson documents shenanigans from a spring break trip funded by the Bowdoin Outing Club’s coveted “Beyond the Pines” scholarship, which funds enriching outdoor travel. Nicholson takes the audience straight into backcountry skiing, cross-country scenery and cabin life with footage shot exclusively from a Gopro camera.

The final competing film, Dramyin, follows a young man through the countryside as he strums a traditional stringed Himalayan folk instrument called a dramyin. Director Annie Chen ’17 showcases stunning scenery of winding paths and stone houses in her wordless film.

Friday’s event follows the Bowdoin Film Society’s fall semester competition, The 48-Hour Film Festival, in which students have 48 hours to write, film and edit a film on a given topic. In addition to bi-annual competitions, the student-run club screens two films each weekend and sponsors speakers from the film industry.

Nicolas Magalhães ’15, next year’s president of the Bowdoin Film Society, organized this year’s competition. He said he loves the spring competition because “it gives students a chance to show their footage to their peers.” He praises the competition for being a public and accessible “creative film outlet.”

One movie trailer and short film were entered out of competition. Rickey Larke ’15 screened a trailer for his independent project, Ivies, which aims to dispel myths surrounding the spring festival cherished by students and alumni.

Daniel & Chloe, directed by Gabe Frankel ’17, was also screened. It follows the story of a tumultuous teenage relationship.

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