These aspiring filmmakers will showcase their efforts at The First Look Student Film Festival this weekend at the Starz FilmCenter. Thirty-eight short films from around the globe will be screened during three presentations.
"We have a wide gamut of projects," says Wade Gardner, who, along with Josh Weinberg, founded the festival for Colorado students last year and introduced it with an impressive 33 entries. After opening up the second edition to international entries, the pair received more than sixty works. Although First Look is just one of a number of similar student film fests around the country, Gardner hopes their upstart will someday rival Robert Redford's Sundance Festival as a career-launching pad. "We want to grow until it's attended by students and filmmakers from around the world," he says.
Audiences can see submissions such as Jacob Zvejkal Is Les Boogie, made in the Czech Republic, or Mem, an abortion documentary from Japan. Hometown filmmakers from the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Colorado at Denver, and the Colorado Film and Video Institute -- where Gardner and Weinberg are students -- will also compete for festival recognition.
The projects, made on budgets ranging from $7 to $50,000, "show the level of intensity, the seriousness of [the filmmakers'] work," Gardner says. Pieces such as The Runaway, a 24-minute black-and-white silent film about a nine-year-old girl set in San Francisco in the 1930s, and Band, a portrait of the Centennial Marching Hawks from Bakersfield, California, are expected to vie for honors in the juried competition. "The Runaway is very Chaplinesque," explains Gardner. "There's a poignancy to it."
Gardner and Weinberg hope to attract about 300 attendees, with a goal this year to break even financially. Last year they spent several thousand dollars out of pocket. "We do this for the love of doing it," says Gardner, who also works in telecommunications. "We want to make Denver a destination place to see good films."