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Lights, camera, Campus MovieFest

If you had seen students filming mini-movies around campus over the past week, it was likely for Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film festival. CMF is a one-week event in which participating students are provided with a handheld camera, audio equipment and Adobe editing software to make their own up-to-five-minute movie.

UMBC students contributed seventy-five films to CMF this year, with the most popular subject matter being memes. Sprinkled throughout the submissions, however, were some serious documentaries, dramas and comedies, ranging from an exploration of homelessness in Baltimore City to a retelling of William Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale.”

Last Saturday, filmmakers and viewers gathered in the ITE building to celebrate the 16 best films of the week with a red carpet finale. The CMF team presented Silver Tripod awards (meant to mimic the national Gold Tripod award) in the categories of Best Special Effects (“Magic Pen,” Aldi Maraya), Best Sound (“Echoes,” John Sutley) and Best Performance (Surasdee Das, “Chicane”).

The top four films of the week were chosen by an anonymous panel of judges and were presented Jury Awards at the end of the night. Each of the four films will go on to compete at the national level at TERMINUS, a conference for up-and-coming filmmakers and game developers. In true Oscars fashion, each team captain gave a short speech upon acceptance of their award.

“Choptank,” the first winner and a hilarious French nouveau film, chronicled one man’s inner musings as he reflected over his life and the various circumstances that led him to where he is. Captain Emanuel Fuentes, a senior film major, was stunned to receive an award. “I saw so many films up there, And I was – wow,” he said. “I hope that if this is what your passion is, even if you didn’t see your film up there, please keep doing what you’re doing.”

“Kids Eat Free” was the next winner of the night and shared the story of the Kids Eat Free non-profit program that provides backpack lunches to kids affected by food insecurity. Deveraux Smith, captain of the film team and graduate student at UMBC in applied sociology, shared his success with the many Kids Eat Free volunteers that came out to support him and their cause.

Above all, though, Smith emphasized the importance of the program, encouraging everyone in the audience to be the change they want to see in the world. “Everything we do is for the kids; every day we come out and – seeing them and feeding the community is the ultimate milestone. The goal is for every kid in America to get food.”

“Magic Pen” by Aldi Maraya was also presented with a Jury Award and tells the story of a college student who discovers a pen that writes whatever he wishes. He spends his days making money writing papers for other students and trolling the campus with memes. “Too Meta” by Paul Oh also embraced the ridiculous with a seven-layer deep meta-movie exploring both the complexities and simplicities of cinematic design and what it truly means to create meaningful art – if that even matters in the first place.

All films submitted to UMBC CMF can be viewed online at campusmoviefest.com.