Audience votes for zombies at UAF Film Festival

Jason Hersey/Sun Star Reporter
April 30, 2013

Local events, outhouse discussions, cage fights and zombies were among many of the diverse themes at this year’s UAF Film Festival at the Salisbury Theatre. The festival featured Alaskan made independent films, music and Fairbanks landscapes.

On Thursday night the UAF Film Club screened 17 short films. The duration of the films were from less than a minute to almost half an hour. The films covered genres such as documentaries, music videos, mockumentaries, narratives, T.V. series and cooking shows. Three interludes featured local filmmakers discussing current and future projects and encouraging community support through funding and production assistance.

Film student Shawn Weixelman, creator of the Alaskan independent Sci-Fi series CrossOver, developed the T.V. series from his 2007 self-published comic book. Along with filming in the Museum of the North, Weixelman told the festival audience that filming for the series’ pilot will also occur in Homer because of its architectural diversity. The story follows a planet that has stopped rotating creating cultures that live in perpetual light or darkness.

Documentaries at the festival featured local events and lifestyles. “Dry,” produced by Rebecca File and KSUA Media group, featured the dry cabin life of Fairbanks complete with outhouse footage. Nannette Pierson’s mini-series “For Free in Fairbanks 2012,” went around Fairbanks to free events, like music festivals and free swap markets, while taking a shopping tour at the “transfer mall,” or the local transfer sites. The Fairbanks’ Athabaskan Fiddle Festival was represented in Sarah Betcher’s “Tradition in Tune.”

Music was a major component of all of the films. Most soundtracks were self-composed and performed as per submission guidelines, though third party music was allowed with rights obtained. Music videos also made the screen with KSUA Media Group’s submission “The Black and Wretched Blue” featuring artist Emma Hill with accompaniment by Bryan Daste. The music video was filmed as part of the KSUA Takeout Sessions.

Aaron Gordon’s music video “Hannah Banana” won third place for audience choice award. The video had the audience laughing and clapping to the beat of techno hip hop song to lyrics like “feeling down and need your frown turned ’round? Eat a banana!” Gordon wrote the song and made the video as a Christmas present for his cousin, he said. Gordon is a UAF film student and emceed the event.

Benjamin Ghalami’s narrative film “The Prettiest Girl in Town,” was the longest film submitted and won second place for audience choice. A kidnapping of the prettiest girl in town tears apart two lovers in the mafia story. The lead character has to find his way through a maze of thugs and prostitutes in search of his kidnapped lover.

The winner of the audience choice “Humans Vs. Zombies” submitted by Jay Byam, mockumented the recent Humans Vs. Zombies game played on campus. Narrated by one of the last few humans, a tragic love story unfolds as the narrator’s new fiancé is taken by the zombies. The culmination of the drama came when he had to save his own life and shoot his poor zombie love with a Nerf gun. The roughly seven and a half minute film included slow motion zombie attacks and narrow escape scenes.

Other films entered were narrative film “UAF Quest for the Source of Heat and Power” submitted by Trish Winners. Gonzo Gonzales submitted two films, documentary “Life in a Cage” and outdoor fishing show “Minto.” Short trailers submitted were Naaqtuuq Dommek’s “Blue Bead Trailer” and James Martinez’s “Fool’s Paradise Trailer.” “CrossOver Interviews” and “Frozen” by Shawn Weixelman featured the Sci-Fi CrossOver series. Leah and Lena’s cooking show “Buttered Herb Potatoes” was submitted by Yelena Petkova and Marcus Mooers of Frostbite Films submitted narrative film “The Business.”

Along with many prize giveaways, beach balls in the crowd and balloons falling from the ceiling, interlude and closing speakers encouraged audience members to get involved with local film productions. Many of the ongoing projects are still seeking production crew members and actors. Contact the UAF Film Club for more information on how to get involved or to learn more about summer training programs the Film Department offers.

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