The Boston Student Film Festival (BSFF) will make its third annual appearance between Thursday and Saturday, March 20-22. The BSFF, produced by The Boston Student Arts Network (BSAN), was founded with a simple mission. Kelly Soule, a 2011 Northeastern University graduate, grew frustrated with how difficult it was to find other students to work with on film projects. “In a city like Boston, it shouldn’t be that difficult,” she said. With a background in film and communication studies and experience with both the Los Angeles and Sundance Film Festivals, Soule created BSAN, from which the festival was born.
The BSAN addresses the void Soule thought needed to be filled when she was in college. It aims to connect students interested in film and other art forms in Boston and the greater New England area. Soule hopes the BSFF will continue to give students the opportunity to work alongside each other, learn from other young filmmakers, and share their experiences with the filmmaking industry. BSAN seeks to foster success by providing students with the necessary tools, equipment, crew, support, artistic advice, and performance opportunities. The latter is provided primarily by the BSFF.
The BSFF allows undergraduate and graduate students to submit their short films so that they can be viewed and critiqued by a jury comprised of individuals experienced in the field. This year, the jury will include several executives of other film festivals, including the Arlington National Film Festival and the Rhode Island Film Festival, as well as notable film critics and other industry professionals. Some well-known figures on the jury include Garen Daly, George Thomas Marshall, Tom Meek, Michele Meek, Mike Oliver, J. Alberto, and April Guzman. After viewing the submitted films, the panel provides the filmmakers with constructive feedback.
Submission requirements are simple. To submit a film, a student must be from New England originally or attending college in the New England area. The film must be no more than 30 minutes long and have been made within the past year. There is no copyrighted material allowed in the films-this includes music and external footage.
“We try to create an eclectic mix,” Soule said, adding that the film fest will accept anything from documentaries to experimental films.
In past years, the films have been screened online before being premiered at the physical film festival. This year, that will not be the case. All the films, not only the 13 finalist films, will be screened together at the premiere. The screening will be on Saturday, March 22.
In addition to changing parts of the film festival itself, the BSFF will also add an extra night for students to network with industry professionals. On Thursday, March 20, the BSFF will host the Filmmakers Networking Reception, allowing filmmakers and film lovers to socialize and network with local industry professionals. According to the BSFF’s official website, this event is open to all student filmmakers and film professionals in New England-it is free and will take place at the Lir, an Irish pub and restaurant on Boylston Street.
Saturday’s events will include the aforementioned film screening, which is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased online-$10 for general entry and $5 for students. The films will be aired, the organization will host a question and answer session with the filmmakers, and an afterparty will follow, at which the “Best of the Fest” will be announced. This event will take place at the Bright Family Screening Room at Emerson College. A reception and awards presentation at the Marriot Courtyard Downtown will follow the screening event. “I wanted to give the finalists a chance to share the creative process with the audience,” Soule said of the networking night. “It’s a major accomplishment to produce a film, and it’s also an opportunity to share what you have learned with other aspiring arts students.”
As founder, Soule said that she is thrilled with the growth of the film festival over the years. She noted that submissions this year increased by 75 percent and that the number of female participants has skyrocketed as well. In the BSFF’s first year, 10 percent of the participants were female, whereas half this year’s participants are female.
Boston University graduate Jacob Bann, a participant in this year’s festival whose film is entitled “Deterrence,” speaks to the growth of the film festival: “I think this year’s fest has a great collection of films from around the area. I remember last year’s movies were incredibly strong.”