AACC hosts film fest, chooses winners

 “Purgatory Bay” by Dylan Siebenhar won awards for best drama and best overall film in the AACC film fest on April 26.

“Purgatory Bay” by Dylan Siebenhar won awards for best drama and best overall film in the AACC film fest on April 26.

Philip Van Slooten, Reporter

A student film about a man seeking redemption after murder won the best drama award at AACC’s first student film festival on April 26.

The filmmaker, Dylan Siebenhar, a second-year film studies student, also won the best overall prize for what the judge called “a unique voice” emerging.

“‘Purgatory Bay is about a man who dies and goes to hell, or purgatory, and he’s trying to make his way back and come to grips with death or what death means,” Siebenhar said. “He’s trying to … reclaim his life in some way.”

In the film, which students can find on  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igyWC4UAJv0

a man seems to survive a bloody fight scene only to wander through a strange forest.

Later he is confronted by a woman who tells him, “You’re dead, man” and snuffs her cigarette his back while he cries at her heel. The film ends with him bathed in a red light, begging for forgiveness.

“This film got me from the first shot,” said guest judge, Dina Fiasconaro, a fil, professor from Stevenson University. “It was clear [from the beginning] the story was grappling with bigger issues.”

Siebenhar’s purgatory also featured a character from another film entry, one who had perished from an onion obsession in “Abstract Addiction,” which won for best comedy.

The genre-blurring cameo and collaboration showed the bond of friendship between club members despite the competition.

Josh Smith told of his love for eggs, bacon and toast in “The Breakfast Story,” though Chanan Delivuk, visual arts professor and videography club adviser admitted, “He didn’t eat the bacon. He’s a vegetarian.”

The food-obsession theme continued in Jacob Benton’s “Eat Healthy” where one character innocently holds out a cupcake to a friend who is trying hard to eat right.

Later, the character finds himself tied up while his friend, now nearly naked and with an accomplice who enjoys oranges and nipple electrodes, rants about junk food and industrial conspiracies.

This film, and others with stories about mysterious packages, “phone-slinging” heroes, and a woman who finds connection through crossword puzzles, were each unique and interesting in their own way. The abstract entries also demonstrated a vision the judge appreciated.

“It doesn’t need to be about winning or losing,” Fiasconaro said. “For students it’s about the process. Just keep on making films and learning something every time.”

Fiasconaro also advised students to learn what part of the filmmaking process they loved and to get good at it.

“I loved the way [“Your Wedding” by Charles Hawkins] was edited,” she said of the winning thriller entry. “This was one that took a creative risk with a long take that pulls out the conversation.”

Fiasconaro said another risk was the over-saturation of yellow towards the end, “I’m not sure what it means, but I liked it.”

The judge said she enjoyed many of the films in content as well as quality. Delivuk, too, was pleased by the entries and plans to hold a second festival next year.