Opinion | Illini Film Fest spotlights student filmmakers during quarantine

The official logo for Illini Film Fest.

Photo Courtesy of Illini Film Fest

The official logo for Illini Film Fest.

By Austin Stadelman, Columnist

In the midst of this quarantine, while cinemas across the nation are temporarily closed, there’s still plenty of new media to be consumed. The same goes for the student-run Illini Film Festival. With all of us stuck at home, the Film Festival is one way to participate in the college experience, even if it is online.

While there will be no physical festival this year, the spirit and culture of the campus’ filmmakers live on in a virtual festival that will be held as a streaming event this Saturday. The event and updates for it can be found on the festival’s website at illinifest.illinois.edu

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The stream will begin around 5 p.m. Central Standard Time and will feature a couple hours of content from students across the University. All the content will be available for viewing individually after the stream is completed.

While the traditional category of short films will be up for viewing, with genres such as comedy, drama, music, dance, video essays, documentaries, animation and experimental films, two additional categories are also to be showcased: home movies and Tik Toks. 

The home movies will consist of students delivering messages of hope, positivity and re-connection to the greater University community using formats such as cell phones and webcams. The Tik Toks will be brief snippets of energy and creativity to showcase the peak of the human mind under quarantine. 

“This year we’re opening up submissions to different forms of creative expression to accommodate everyone, from budding directors to students with 90 free seconds and a smartphone,” said Jon Knipp, professor in Media, who has run the Illini Film Festival over the last few years.

The Illini Film Fest provides a creative outlet for students who might have been getting cabin fever under these circumstances, and with over 80 submissions, the pandemic hasn’t slowed down the creative process for many of them. 

While it would make sense that a statewide stay-at-home order would hinder the development of content and number of submissions for this year’s festival, the filmmakers across campus are going strong by providing an outlet for their creative expressions. 

It’s worth the time to see what the creative minds of the University have to offer. Its culture provides a sense of accomplishment for the students who put the effort into creating media that will see a real platform. There are even prizes involved, such as a $100 gift card that will be awarded to the favorite short film, a $75 gift card to the most creative home movie and $50 to the favorite Tik Tok video.

If you happen to have some free time at home this Saturday, stopping by this year’s virtual edition of the Illini Film Fest will be well worth your quarantine time. You might even catch an idea of your own to submit to next year’s festival.

Austin is a senior in LAS. 

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