After her relocation to the East Lansing area, Susan W. Woods said she saw few opportunities for East Lansing filmmakers.
Woods took it upon herself to create an avenue for local film connoisseurs: the East Lansing Film Festival, or ELFF.
Within the past 15 years, ELFF has expanded beyond Michigan to include filmmakers from all states bordering Lake Michigan. The increase in territory has provided an influx of filmmakers.
Woods said the festival can easily stand up against other well-known film festivals.
“The organization, the projection, the quality of (the) films are all at world class, and I mean that seriously,” she said. “This film festival rivals any festival you will go to in a major city.”
Originally, ELFF was a three-day festival; it has since grown to span nine days. ELFF will run from Nov. 7-15. Films will be shown at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road, Wells Hall and the Lansing Celebration! Cinema, 22 E. Edgewood Road.
ELFF is accompanied by the Lake Michigan Film Competition, or LMFC. LMFC provides filmmakers the chance to win awards for their featured films.
MSU alumna and LMFC Director Erika Noud said before she was involved with LMFC, she volunteered for the first ELFF.
She said since the first year of the festival, the quality of submitted films has improved, adding to the already difficult process of selecting films for the festival.
“There are so many good films, but unfortunately, we have limited time,” she said. “Cutting films is always the hardest part.”
MSU alumnus Curtis Matzke was the director of one of more than 40 films to make it into the festival. He said despite his previous experience with the festival, he still is nervous about the reception of his film, “Complex.”
“This is my third year with something in the festival,” Matzke said. “I’m definitely still nervous because this film is different, and (I don’t know) how people are going to react to it.”
Woods said ELFF offers students a unique chance to see films that ordinarily wouldn’t be available. Unlike movies premiered in the theater, she said the independent films at ELFF will be available for viewing just once.
“It’s just like going to a concert,” she said. “It’s a one-time deal; it’s fun, and (there are) great films.”
Matzke won’t be the only Spartan showcasing his work to the community. MSU alumnus Kris Sundberg will show his film, “Acheron,” as well.
He said he’s eager for the opportunity to share his work with an audience.
“Without an audience, without a way to expose your work, filmmaking doesn’t really amount to much,” Sundberg said.
Woods said she was particularly impressed with the work MSU students produced.
“There was an increase in really good, creative filmmakers coming out of MSU,” she said.
Sundberg said students should check out the festival to support their community on a whole and see fellow students’ work.
“There’s some great stuff out there,” he said. “(Directors) put a lot of work into it, so show your support.”