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20th Annual East Lansing Film Festival kicks off this Thursday

November 7, 2017
Courtesy of Susan W. Woods.
Courtesy of Susan W. Woods. —

The large lecture rooms in the B-wing of Wells Hall are usually devoted to the mass pursuit of higher learning. However, for eight days starting this Thursday, they will instead be dedicated to something else: movies. 

The 20th annual East Lansing Film Festival begins Thursday, Nov. 9, and runs for eight days until Nov. 16, with screenings at Wells Hall and at Studio C! theater in Okemos. This year’s festival features 68 films, including 15 international films.  

The festival opens with a party at Studio C! celebrating the festival’s second decade, featuring birthday cake and performances by MSU jazz students. Tickets to the party are $15. 

This will be followed by the first film, a Swiss period film called “The Divine Order,” about women gaining the right to vote in Switzerland during the 1970s. 

According to Susan W. Woods, founder and director of the festival, multiple films and events will be offered for free to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the festival, which began in 1997. 

Attendees of the short film programs at Wells Hall over the course of the festival will be able to enter a raffle to win two GoPro Session cameras, each worth $150. 

Woods expects between 3,000 and 4,000 people to attend this year. 

Woods explained that the festival is split into two main parts: a general call for entries and the Lake Michigan Film competition. 

The Lake Michigan Film Competition is the premier platform for films made in the four states that surround Lake Michigan, according to Woods. 

“So that’s Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. So that will take place on Friday and Saturday of the film festival at Wells Hall,” she said 

MSU has been involved in the festival since the beginning. 

“When we started the film festival, we only showed films in Wells Hall in the four auditoriums in the B-wing,” Woods said. “From that it has evolved. That was three days, now it’s evolved to eight days.”

The festival will also feature a full-length film produced by MSU students as part of MSU’s Theatre 2 Film program, entitled “Stay With Me.” The film, written by MSU students and then produced as a stage play before being translated to the silver screen, is a psychological thriller following the collapse of a midwestern family. 

It is being shown free to undergraduate on-campus students, and tickets are available as well. “Stay With Me” will be screened in Wells Hall at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 10. 

“The college of Communication Arts & Sciences, MSU Jewish Studies, and the College of Arts & Letters are all major sponsors,” Woods said. “We have films from MSU and from MSU grads in the Lake Michigan Film Competition.” 

Woods also suggests that aspiring student filmmakers attend a panel on Saturday, Nov. 11 with the ELFF’s film selection committees to learn what makes films appealing to festivals. That panel will take place at 12:30 p.m. at Wells Hall and will cover the process of filmmaking as well. 

More information on the 20th Annual East Lansing Film Festival, including a full schedule of screenings at both locations as well as ticket prices, can be found on their website. 

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