UCI’s Film-Arts-Drama Alliance (FADA) hosted the 17th Annual Zotfest, a film festival to highlight student filmmakers, last Saturday, screening the campus’s best short films made in the past year.
This year, ten films were screened to a packed HIB 100 classroom, with close to 300 audience members marking one of the highest-attended Zotfests to date. The formal event brought out elegantly-attired students, families and faculty in, taking photos on the red carpet underneath the blue moon.
Zotfest began preparation in winter quarter, calling for submissions by the beginning of spring quarter. Submissions consisted of films produced during Zotfilm in fall and winter, as well as independent projects. Once submissions close, a selection process narrows it down to the ten best.
The films ranged in style, genre and subject matter. Some students, like Ryan Gonzales, Matt Randall and Paige Taeko, took to the comedy route with their respective entries “Tell Me a Joke” and “From Agents, With Coffee.” Others followed a much more dramatic tradition; “Passe” by Mengyuan He and “Recall” by Jessica Lin both depicted more sullen characters dealing with darker issues. And, representing the more novelty and niche aspects of film style, Russell Kawaguchi’s horror film “In the Shadows” kept audiences on the edges of their seats.
While the films screened, a panel of judges, comprised of UCI faculty, alumni and industry professionals, jotted notes on scoring cards, in order to grant awards at the end of the night in several categories. Categories included: Best Screenplay, Best Performance, People’s Choice, Best Director and Best Picture. Three new categories, replacing the more general “Technical Award,” were Best Editing, Sound Design and Cinematography.
Taking most of the awards were “Passe” and “Yifu Yan.” He’s film centered on a family coping with a grandfather’s Alzheimer’s, inspired by He’s own grandfather’s condition. Originally a business economics major, He noted during the acceptance speech for People’s Choice gratitude for “finally being able to find my passion” in filmmaking.
“Yifu Yan,” made by Gege Xu, documented the life of a pianist, who Xu called her best friend. Her film took the top honor of Best Picture, as well as Best Editing.
Professor Peter Krapp, Chair of the Film and Media Studies department, celebrated that this year’s Zotfest marked 17 years of a student-run film festival, making UCI the only UC to have their own festival for such a duration.
As the night ended, with hugs and applause, FADA Board Members Evelyn Martinez and Lucia Alvarez thanked all who participated, both on and off screen.
“We think everyone can agree that Zotfest is a place to commemorate UCI students’ creativity and work on their films,” Martinez said. “Although there are awards given, its more about being able to celebrate the work that had been put into all the films made. For FADA it is important to create a space for students to meet with others that are passionate for film.”