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Saturday, October 25, 2014


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Festival to showcase more Mid-Mich. films than ever




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Media arts and technology senior Justin Grosjean checks the settings on his camera before filming a segment of a project at his classmate’s apartment Tuesday afternoon. Grosjean is one of several MSU students that will be featured at the East Lansing Film Festival from Nov. 9-17. Lauren Wood/The State News



These Michigan filmmakers have lit sets, miked subjects, shot scenes and edited clips.

Finally, after months of careful creation, their projects are complete.

On Wednesday, their Michigan-made movies will hit the big screen. The 14th annual East Lansing Film Festival, which runs until Nov. 17 , will feature more locally made films than ever before.

This year, the festival will showcase 23 films made in Mid-Michigan.

Attendees also can view several films created by local students.

Film: “Fractured”
Director: Justin Grosjean
Date and time: Nov. 12 at 11:15 a.m.
Location: Wells Hall, Theater C
Run time: 5 minutes
Category: Local Filmmakers Showcase: MSU Film

Film: “Round Trip Ticket”
Director: Michael Steinfield
Date and time: Nov. 12 at 11:15 a.m.
Location: Wells Hall, Theater C
Run time: 8 minutes
Category: Local Filmmakers Showcase: MSU Film

Film: “Lake Village”
Director: Ryan Booms
Date and time: Nov. 13 at noon
Location: Wells Hall, Theater D
Run time: 50 minutes
Category: Lake Michigan Film Competition: Student documentary

Film: “Being From Another Planet”
Date and time: Nov. 12 at 1 p.m.
Location: Wells Hall, Theater C
Run time: 117 minutes
Category: Local Filmmakers Showcase: Feature

Film: “Bay City: Community Through Restoration”
Director: Mitchell Haba
Date and time: Nov. 13 at noon
Location: Wells Hall, Theater D
Run time: 16 minutes
Category: Lake Michigan Film Competition: Student documentary

Film: “American Terrorist”
Director: Ben Sherman
Date and time: Nov. 12 at noon
Location: Wells Hall, Theater D
Run time: 31 minutes
Category: Lake Michigan Film Competition: Student narrative

Film: “The Verve Pipe on BackStage Pass”
Director: Tim Zeko
Date and time: Nov. 12 at 11:15 a.m.
Location: Wells Hall, Theater D
Run time: 88 minutes
Category: Local Filmmakers Showcase: Documentary

Festival Director Susan Woods is proud to showcase films created by this young talent.

“When students have a platform for them to be able to show their films … it really encourages them,” she said.

‘Fractured’

Media arts and technology senior Justin Grosjean’s film, “Fractured” — in which the main character is delusional and imagines himself as two different people — is one of many student-made films being featured in the festival.

After creating the film for a telecommunications class and receiving positive feedback from a professor, Grosjean decided to submit it to the festival.

“My favorite part was putting one of my ideas into film and making it come to life,” Grosjean said.

In his five-minute, post-apocalyptic film, Grosjean said he wanted to feature Detroit and bring it into a more positive light.

“Even though there are negative connotations (of Detroit), there’s some cool stuff you can do with (the city) that should be focused on,” he said.

Grosjean spent about five hours with his brother to shoot the film in an old, burnt-down house that was repainted by an artist.

“It’s destroyed but beautiful at the same time,” he said.

After the success of “Fractured,” Grosjean said he began creating more films and plans to continue to do so in the future.

“It makes me feel really good, (and) it’s become addicting,” he said. “I went from that, and it just snowballed into making one short film after another.”

‘Round Trip Ticket’

Residential College in the Arts and Humanities senior Michael Steinfield hopes to add an international flair to the festival with his film “Round Trip Ticket” — a production inspired by his return to the U.S. after a study abroad trip he took to West Africa.

After spending five months on the continent, which Steinfield said has a more friendly atmosphere than the U.S., he experienced culture shock and turned his feelings into a movie.

“I felt a little cut off when I got back, and that’s sort of what the movie is about,” he said.

With his film, which focuses on two people who feel out of place and was shot almost entirely in East Lansing, Steinfield said he hopes to open audience members’ eyes to cultures other than their own.

“I would hope it makes people think about how cultural values are different around the world and it can be easy to expect people to behave in a way that you’re used to behaving,” he said.

“When you’re thrown into a different environment, it’s easy to get frustrated with the way people act in that environment, but you just have to learn to accept that things don’t work the same everywhere.”

‘Lake Village’

While filming his documentary, “Lake Village,” which profiles a farming cooperative in Kalamazoo, Mich., Kalamazoo College alumnus Ryan Booms learned more about the origin of his food and also how to foster strong community relationships.

The entire documentary is filmed at the farm, and several interviews take place during community members’ day-to-day activities.

“While people are talking about their lives, they’re actually living them too,” he said.

Booms said the community his work features started out as a hippie commune and now consists of about 40 people living in harmony with Mother Nature.

Many of today’s farms are factory farms and abusive to animals, while this farm uses rare farming practices and treats its animals and the Earth kindly, he said.

Booms said he hopes “Lake Village” will provoke thought from its viewers.

“I hope that people evaluate their own lives and think about where they’re getting their food from and think about what kind of impact they’re making on the planet,” he said. “(I hope they) think about their relationship with their neighbors and their community and how to foster a stronger relationship with their community.”

‘Being From Another Planet’

Okemos resident Joseph Parcell’s film, “Being From Another Planet,” consists of a cast and crew entirely from Michigan.

“I just hope that when people see (my film), they can see that the state of Michigan can come up with something amazing on its own with the talent that we have here with the amount of people ready to work,” he said.

The film tells the tale of a child born to astronaut parents, making him the first legal extraterrestrial and focuses on the difficulties presented by his unique situation, such as being bullied.

Although it already has been featured in three other film festivals, Parcell said he is excited to have it featured so close to his home.

“We’re really excited about it being shown around here so a lot of our friends can finally see it on the big screen,” he said.

‘Bay City: Community Through Restoration’

Media arts and technology senior Mitchell Haba also focused on what he views as a neglected city in Michigan for his festival submission, ”Bay City: Community Through Restoration.”

The short documentary about Bay City, Mich., chronicles the city’s past and present, and Haba said he hopes it will prove to be educational.

“I would just like (audience members) to walk away from the film knowing a little more about Bay City, Mich., and its past and its future because it’s going places,” he said.

Haba said the most difficult part of making his film was being a young student not knowing exactly what he was doing — he began the year-and-a-half-long process when he was 18 years old.

“A lot of people looked at me like I was just some kid with a video camera,” he said.

‘American Terrorist’

After two semesters of collaboration, a group of MSU students created an out-of-the-ordinary production, “American Terrorist.”

The film depicts the tale of a biology professor who makes recipes in his basement for biological weapons to sell.

”It’s not like a typical kind of student film that portrays a bunch of college friends in their dorm room,” co-writer and graduate student Curtis Matzke said. “It definitely tackles different types of subject matter.”

The majority of the scenes were filmed in East Lansing, and most of the cast resides within the Lansing area.

“There’s plenty of good talent in the area that we tapped into,” Matzke said.

Matzke said his aim was to create a piece of work that would prompt questions and encourage viewers to interpret the film in their own way.

“(It doesn’t matter) if they like it or dislike it,” he said. “As long as they think about it at the end that’s always a good result.”

‘The Verve Pipe on BackStage Pass’

In addition to local filmmakers, the festival also will highlight other talented Michiganians, such as members of The Verve Pipe, an East Lansing-based alternative band.

Directed by the executive producer of WKAR, Tim Zeko, “The Verve Pipe on BackStage Pass,” is a documentary that includes performances by the band and interviews with its members.

“I was very tickled and thrilled … to see that the festival wanted to feature Michigan musicians and filmmakers,” Zeko said.

Zeko will attend the documentary’s screening as well as the question and answer session with band members and others involved with the production following it.

“It is a tremendous musical performance and an opportunity to get to know one of Michigan’s better known music groups,” Zeko said.


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