Minute Film Festival: Sixty-Second Creative Endeavors

Alasdair Padman, Staff Reporter

What can you do with a minute? This was the challenge posed to students taking part in the Minute Film Festival in Kimball Theater on Friday, Oct. 27. The festival, put on by the Fine Arts House, premiered 36 different films submitted by a variety of students. As with all film festivals, this one showcased a range of styles, stories and visuals, but the only requirement was to compress this creativity into 60 seconds of footage. This was no simple task.

Amara Garibyan, one of the creators behind the short “Dilaudid,” expressed her surprise at the difficulty of cutting a film down.

“It was harder than I thought; it sounds like quite a bit [of time], but we edited [our film] down to about three minutes of footage, then had to figure out what to cut,” Garibyan said. “It’s not as much time, especially when you want to have any sort of narrative. It’s also really fun.”

The largest problem the filmmakers had was making the films interesting within the time constraint. “Dilaudid,” written and directed by Matthew Levy and Garibyan, is the perfect example of what is possible to capture in a minute; it is comedic, doesn’t rely on dialogue, and is instantly recognizable. The film mostly consists of Levy washing bread in the sink.

Another film, Calvin Lincoln’s “Safeway,” won first place in the festival. It told the brief story of Lincoln entering Safeway, enjoying the products therein, and leaving without buying a single item.

Other films were less comedic; one focused on a study abroad, and another captured simple act of loading film into a camera and taking a photo.

The ways the films were conceived were interesting and sometimes spontaneous, given the short time span of the film.

“Amara had the idea of putting bread in the sink,” began Levy, referring to “Dilaudid.”

Garibyan quickly interjected, “–bread washing. We were inspired by a ‘rinsing your bread’ meme. So I thought, we should wash some bread. It just escalated from there.”

This appeared to emulate the process of several other films: the directors took a single idea and pushed the boundaries of it. Sometimes the idea didn’t take, and other times it came with the pulpy joy of a terrible joke.

Jordan Miller, the RA of the Fine Arts House and a film major, pitched the idea of the festival near the start of the semester. It is one of four events that the Fine Arts House is required, by the Interest House Community, to host, in order to draw attention to the discipline.

“In the past, it’s been a lot of arts and crafts type [events], so one of our goals for this semester was to diversify the type of art we’re representing in our programming,” Miller said. “We have a couple of actors, a couple of filmmakers, a few visual artists and a couple of musicians [in the house]; we wanted to do a film festival.”

Miller was inspired by a flash play festival that was put on by the Fine Arts House last year. The two events were both easily accessible to students and allowed for a wide variety of performances and films.

These same principles were apparent in the Minute Film Festival; some students recorded on their smart phones, others used a variety of cameras to make their films stand out. Both of these choices yielded a great variety of pieces, and that was appreciated by the crowd that gathered in Kimball.

“I really enjoyed the film festival,” first-year Thomas Neufeld said. “For the most part, the films were really well-made; it was obvious people put a lot of effort into them, and it was really entertaining.”

He found that the videos that stuck with him were the comedies.

“I felt like comedy worked a lot better,” Neufeld said. “Most of the films that were more fast-paced and entertaining–films that didn’t take themselves too seriously–were the best.”

These same thoughts were further exemplified by the thunder of applause that followed each comedy.

So, what can you do in a minute? For the Whitman students, the answer is nearly limitless. Comedy might have worked the best for some, but there were other films that captured a moment of magic, or left an image ingrained on the eye. Sixty seconds might seem like a short time to evoke such emotions, but in the hands of these directors, a minute was just enough.