By Amanda Jesse
The 2015 Tower Film Festival promises to carry on its tradition of celebrating the quirks that comprise life in the University of Dallas community. The festival has been going on for approximately a decade, during which time the Student Foundation-sponsored event has brought forth iconic and all-too-familiar expressions of UD culture.
Last year’s festival produced such pieces as “The Bachelor: Ring by Spring,” which won first place, and “PDKlosed,” which senior Shelby Flood described as “controversial” because despite its high-quality cinematography, it ran too long to claim a prize. Both films satirized common elements of society on campus.
“It captures not only the quirkiness of UD, but also the wit of it,” senior Killian Beeler said, discussing “PDKlosed.” “Most of the time it’s very satirical. Most of the films try to make fun of something.” Beeler and Student Foundation president Maria Buckner are co-chairs of the festival committee.
This year, submitted films are required to contain an earthquake, a faculty member and the “Narnia Gate” art piece on the east side of campus. Judges for this year’s competition include English professor Father Robert Maguire, psychology professor Dr. Robert Kugelmann, art professor Steven Foutch and history professor Dr. Francis Swietek.
“They take into consideration how well they incorporate the three requirements of the films, how well they really analyze and encapsulate the ‘spirit that walks these hills,’ and just the quirkiness of UD,” Buckner said.
Flood and freshman Maria D’Anselmi are both first-time participants in the festival, and each has a unique plan to fulfill the requirements.
“We’re such a creative campus,” D’Anselmi said. “There’s (sic) so many people on campus who have so much to offer. And there are different talents involved in making a film, for both artistic people and technically-minded people.”
D’Anslemi revealed very little about her own film for fear of spoilers.
“It’s got magic, mayhem, mischief, and fan-girls,” she said. “There’s a bit of everything. It’s funny. I’m hoping people get the plot twist at the end.”
Flood said she drew inspiration from “Back to the Future.” Earthquakes will play a similar role to the lightning bolt that strikes the clock tower in “Back to the Future.” Foreknowledge of that event is essential to the hero. “It’s playful,” Flood said. “There’s some jabs at UD, but it’s all true and it’s all with love, endearing the way that things are around here. The film festival is just a great opportunity for people to show that playful love-hate relationship that they have with the university.”
It is perhaps because of this that the event has been so popular in the past.
“I think it’s a really good encapsulation of the creative spirit at the University of Dallas,” Buckner said.
D’Anselmi added that part of its popularity is the familiar aspect of it.
“[Audiences] want to see people they know on screen,” D’Anselmi said. “They want to see what people they know have made.”
It also aims to create a sense of camaraderie.
“You hear everyone laughing at the same parts and going ‘aww’ at the same parts.” Flood said. “It’s different from going to a regular theater because you don’t know those people, and you’re not dressed up like a movie star.”
Student Foundation has not yet revealed the night’s hosts, who come onstage to introduce the films and make jokes.
“It feels really unified, with all these UD-specific jokes that everyone can get,” Beeler said. Buckner said that the festival is a uniting force for the UD community, and as such is an important annual event for Student Foundation.
“I think the reason Student Foundation ended up supporting it and making it an annual thing is because we are really focused on bringing the student body together,” Buckner said. “That is our goal. You have so many majors here, so many people from all over the country. There’s spring Rome and there’s fall Rome. We just want to bring that community together, and in conjunction with the faculty, because they are a part of it too. And I think this is really one of the best ways that we do that every year.”