The Parkway Theater and the Communication Arts High School are hoping that Twin Citians will take a break from Indiana Jones today to show support for the future Spielbergs in their own back yards.
The .edu Film Festival features about 50 films by high school students from around the state. The short films, written, edited and directed by kids, include such varied subjects as Charlie Chaplin, racial profiling and zombies.
Schools submitted more than 100 videos, of which 46 were selected for today's screenings. The films have been slotted into three categories: documentary, animation/experimental and narrative feature.
You won't see kids showing off their latest "Jackass" moments or simply ranting at the screen in the .edu Festival. The films are juried, with only the best finding a spot. Aside from the basic criteria (student-made in Minnesota without violence, profanity or drug use), the jurors sought out the shorts that displayed creative editing, sound, a strong narrative structure or top animation techniques.
"Of course, we gauged the 'yawn factor,' as well," said Trey Wodele, a video arts instructor at the Communication Arts school in Minneapolis. His students watched every film to ensure that a teenage audience would find them interesting.
The school (part of the Minnesota Transition Schools) has sponsored the festival to help young moviemakers experience a professional film festival firsthand, with all of its attendant thrills and challenges. They'll interact with young directors from around the state and learn valuable lessons as they make the transition from high school into college or the professional world. "It's also fun to see your movie play in a theater," Wodele aded.
The evening's festivities will close with "Raiders of the Lost Ark: the Adaptation," a highly regarded shot-by-shot remake of the first Indiana Jones film, created by three 12-year-old boys over the course of six years. The film is meant as an entertaining lesson on how to create a feature-length picture using stuff that's available around your house. Director Eric Zala will be on hand to talk about his "Raiders" and how it helped him land a career making movies.
The .edu Film Festival might give moviegoers a glimpse of the not-so-distant future of the local -- and perhaps national or international -- players in the movie industry. Imagine having seen the first weird films of Joel and Ethan Coen or a short piece by Diablo Cody years ago. But having endured some of the latest blockbusters, I can also say that these student movies are more imaginative, more hopeful and more entertaining than many of their Hollywood counterparts.