On Friday, Oct. 23, University of Dallas students enjoyed one of the most beloved Charity Week traditions: Tower Film Fest.
All attendees were required to wear masks in adherence to COVID-19 policies, enforced by UD Student Foundation members hosting the event along with Charity Week coordinators Faith Starnes and Damien Walz.
Maintaining the Charity Week theme, the guidelines for the film submissions included a twist on any Dr. Seuss book, Carpenter Grove and adherence to the Groundhog Pledge, all within 5-10 minutes.
The first student film shown was submitted by junior Ale Taliente. Taliente’s film honored the Spring Rome class of 2020, whose semester abroad was unfortunately cut short in March during the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.
Videos of Taliente’s travels abroad in Rome with friends brought a wave of nostalgia to the audience of UD students. The brief but unforgettable semester of the 2020 Spromers was shown with Taliente and friends exploring familiar places like the campus vineyard, St. Peter’s Basilica and other cities seen on class and personal trips.
The film concluded with an allusion to Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”
Residence Coordinator Sarah Baker, philosophy professor Dr. Matthew Walz and theology professor Fr. Thomas Esposito served as the panel of judges to vote on the film submissions.
The judges voted that the Spromer film was Best Documentary.
Another student film presented on Friday evening was dedicated to the senior class.
“Wacky Wednesday,” inspired by Dr. Seuss’ book of the same name, was a project of seniors Lydianne Juguilon, John Flaherty and Maggie Fazio.
“We wanted to do something to include as many people in the senior class as possible,” Fazio said.
The senior class film featured about 50 seniors, including students currently taking an online semester in a Zoom conference call segment. In the film, Fr. Thomas Esposito attempts to teach a ridiculously attired Zoom class about the meaning of Dr. Seuss’ “Wacky Wednesday” but is eventually exasperated by the absurdity.
Besides a silly Zoom class, “Wacky Wednesday” also had cameos from three UD professors, each causing a cheer from students when they appeared on screen.
“It takes a lot to get teachers into a film. It takes commitment, desire and sheer will,” Flaherty said during an interview by the Masters of Ceremonies at Film Fest.
In one scene inspired by a TikTok video, over two dozen seniors danced to “Stacy’s Mom” at a socially distanced concert in Carpenter Grove.
“Wacky Wednesday” was named Best Comedy by the judges.
“I hope that it has been, and I hope that it is, a source of bonding for the community,” Fazio said about the senior film.
“I get that this is a strange semester. I think it’s really important to have things that are inclusive even though a lot of people aren’t physically able to [participate],” she continued.
Along with the judges’ vote, the audience was able to vote on the student films after viewing all three. Students could vote on their favorite film by paying one dollar for one vote, which contributed to the Charity Week fundraiser.
The senior class film won the popular vote after being named Best Comedy.
“The 500 Masks of Bartholomew Cubbins” was the second film presented on Friday evening. Directed by sophomore Phoebe Jones, the film was inspired by the little-known prose work of Dr. Seuss “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.”
Set in a future UD campus which has adapted to the coronavirus pandemic, the film follows the experience of Bartholomew Cubbins as both he and the Office of Student Affairs fail to remove the seemingly endless number of masks from his face.
Of the three films, Jones’ submission adhered most strictly to the Groundhog Pledge, including enforcement of COVID-19 policies in the Office of Sanitation and Allegiance (a parody of the Office of Student Affairs).
On Friday evening, the judges recognized “The 500 Masks of Bartholomew Cubbins” as Best Film.
Jones was ecstatic upon winning.
“My initial response involved squealing and jumping up and down giddily with my friends,” she said.
Although this year’s film submissions looked a little different than those of years past, the three films shown attested to the creativity of UD’s amateur filmmakers.