Undergraduate filmmakers to present thesis films to the public

Undergrads in the Honors film program will present their thesis films at FilmScene this weekend.

Austin J. Yerington, Arts Reporter

A women’s struggle to complete a routine task in a post-trauma world. A day in the life of a trans and nonbinary person. A virtual reality experience that puts the viewer in a melding of Dante’s Inferno, the internet, and a prison system. These are the original works that will be played at “Intimate Realities: Undergraduate Honors Thesis Presentation,” an event hosted by FilmScene at 1 p.m. May 10.

Iowa City is home to not just a vibrant arts culture but also a community of student filmmakers.

The event is not special just because it’s a showcase of the students’ yearlong theses but because the idea was created and carried out by the students. Filmmakers Aaron Longoria and Jess M. Roy are the undergraduates who helped make the presentation possible.

“I wanted something to cumulate it and make it an event for all the people who had helped me with my project,” said Roy, the director of “froot loops.” “I thought it would be really cool to show our work which is an accumulation of our work over our time here.”

These films are a result of a yearlong project with the Cinematic Department’s Honors program. The students, with aid from advisers, wrote, casted, filmed, and edited films. The filmmaking process is tasking, yet instrumental, to the students’ learning.

“The challenge of writing something you can actually film is a challenge, but then to film what you write is was also huge,” said Viltė Vaitkutė, the director of “I Left Something on the Stove.” “I think in the end, this experience was big learning curve.””

With the program to showcase three filmmakers’ works, the films couldn’t be more different from each other, yet all have a natural and unplanned theme of identity in today’s world.

“Being queer and Mexican [as my] identity is always on the front of my mind,” said Longoria, the director of the film “PANOPSCURA.” “So thinking about that and how that happens on the internet it’s a thing of conforming or putting ourselves in these spaces or these frames. The idea with this project is VR doesn’t have a frame, you’re in the space and the internet is the same way.”

Another film that deals with identity but on a less technological level is Roy’s “froot loops,” a haptic-style film that follows a day in the life of a trans and nonbinary person.

“I wanted to do something tied closely to my identity and using my art to explore marginalized stories in deep way for a specific audience,” Roy said. “I identify as trans and nonbinary, so the film itself is a day in the life as a nonbinary person and exploring how they feel differently in spaces.”

These films will all be showcased for the public because of the students’ partnership with FilmScene.

“We feel it’s very important for us to show the incredible work, of what is a very robust number of filmmakers that are in the Cinematic Arts Department,” FilmScene Executive Director Joe Tiefenthaler said. “I would love to become a home for cinema classes.”