March 18, 2015
By Rachel Rogol
by Miranda Dershimer ’15E
by Jose Rodriguez ’15E
At this year’s Five College Student Film and Video Festival, hosted by Hampshire College, Amherst students Miranda Dershimer ’15E and Jose Rodriguez ’15E won awards for short films they wrote, directed, filmed and edited.
Dershimer won in the Best Experimental category for her visually evocative film Presentiments, and Rodriguez’s Exposure (Thoughts Occasioned By) was named the best submission from Amherst College. Both films were awarded in the “experimental” category, a category previously dominated by Hampshire College students’ films since the festival’s inception in 2007.
“I think that Amherst students are beginning to discover,” said Adam Levine, assistant professor of art, film and media studies, “that experimental filmmaking in particular can be a very flexible and fluid means of self-expression.”
Dershimer made Presentiments last spring as her midterm project in Levine’s course “Cinema Experiments,” which Levine says focuses “very specifically on avant-garde filmmaking practice and history, in both digital and analogue formats.” Rodriguez made his film while taking “Films That Try: Essay Film Production,” a class that attempts to take the form of the literary essay and transpose it into moving-image form. “In this course,” says Levine, “I ask students to ‘write’ with a camera as they would with a pen and explore ideas and questions that are personal to them ... without providing concrete answers or conclusions.”
Levine says he describes experimental film, both for his students and in his own work, “as broadly as possible,” encompassing “moving-image abstraction, nonfiction, the video essay, personal filmmaking, landscape study, video art and many other nonnarrative forms of cinema.”
His students are encouraged to work and experiment in a range of formats, from 16mm film to high-definition video, and are ultimately responsible for the conception, execution and final exhibition of their work. “Students in my classes are as much visual artists as they are filmmakers,” says Levine.
This is the third prize for Dershimer’s Presentiments. Most significantly, it was awarded a Regional Prize at the Media City Film Festival, a longstanding and prestigious international festival in Windsor, Ontario, recognized as a leading venue in the world of artists’ film and video.
Sponsored by the Five College Film Council and organized by a faculty advisor and students from each of the Five Colleges (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst), the annual Five College Film and Video Festival accepts submissions in six different categories: Documentary, Experimental, Narrative, Animation, Dance on Film and a separate graduate-student category. There are also prizes for the best submission from each school, as well as a Best of Festival award. Winners are selected by a jury of Five College students and faculty.