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This weekend, the red carpet will be rolled out on campus, celebrating a year of student filmmaking with the Carolina Film Association

The organization's annual film festival is almost here, and a record two dozen student-made films will be showcased on April 27 and 28 in the Genome Sciences Building from 5-9 p.m. An awards ceremony will follow on Sunday night. 

Tickets are $4 per day and can be purchased online or in person before the event.

With over 200 undergraduate members from across disciplines, CFA provides a stage for student filmmakers to bring their creative projects to life.

“CFA is honestly a place where people who have this mutual interest and can’t bring it to its full potential in the academic realm can meet up and can make their filmmaking ambitions come true,” Keller Huffman, executive production advisor and filmmaker, said. “I think that the festival is a great way to see these passions in a way that you might not see in a classroom.”

The festival will present all of this year’s projects, which span various genres. Jack Spencer Gentry, co-president of CFA, said comedy is the biggest genre this year, though there are horror, drama, sci-fi and fantasy films as well.

“Dingus,” Huffman’s film, is certainly a comedy. The plot centers around a “helpless himbo who finds himself in a world of misfortune when he loses his vape on the way to a date," he said.

Huffman wrote and directed his project this year, an undertaking that he began in July of 2023. He was matched with a producer, cast and crew through the club, followed by what Huffman said was a lengthy and dedicated process with two months of filming and about a month and a half of editing.

Mary Katherine Ware, outreach chair at CFA, wrote and assistant directed her film this year after producing and acting in CFA films previously. 

Ware described her project, “So You Wanna Be a Tar Heel,” as “a UNC satire, 'Ferris Bueller’s Day Off' kind of piece” in which the main character breaks down the five rules to surviving life at UNC. 

“I’m excited for everyone to see it because I think it’s going to be a relatable piece that everyone can at least see themselves in a little bit,” she said. 

Nathan Poesel, co-president of CFA, said the festival is an exciting showcase for the filmmakers and audience alike. While the creators get the gratifying experience of showing their film to a live audience on a big screen, attendees get a glimpse of some underground talent on campus. 

“It's really an amazing thing, to see this artistic pulse that's underneath UNC that may not be super visible sometimes,” Poesel said.

To foster an interactive atmosphere, Ware said physical scripts will be provided to audience members at the festival to encourage the filmmaking atmosphere and make the audience an active participant.

The awards ceremony on Sunday night celebrates the hard work that went into the 24 films. Judged by faculty and club alumni, awards for best picture, best actor, best director and more will be handed out.

Three new categories were added this year: best sound design and people’s choice categories for each day, Gentry said.

Beyond the buzz of the awards ceremony, Gentry said the collaborative experience is what truly makes the festival so fun, as the collaboration brings people together from all corners of the UNC campus. 

“There’s just so much energy behind it,” he said. “Everyone’s so excited for everyone else. Everyone is very supportive and just happy to see what’s been done.”

Attendees are encouraged, but not required, to wear black tie attire, as the ceremony is CFA’s take on the Oscars. 

Huffman said anyone interested in film should consider going to the festival and interacting with student creativity and CFA.

“I would encourage anybody who has even the slightest interest to come out to the festival and just to get a taste of what CFA can be,” Huffman said. “I hope that will inspire people to get super involved next year as we move forward and continue to improve the organization and continue to make great movies.”

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@dthlifestyle |