The 2016 Iris Film Festival is “crazy diverse,” director Russell Sheaffer said.
The Iris Film Festival is an annual showcase of short films made by IU students and people in the Bloomington area.
The festival is co-sponsored by the IU Cinema and the Media School.
“We’re not like a niche festival in a way that’s like we only program narrative films, or we only program documentary films, or we only program horror films,” Sheaffer said. “There are lots of festivals like that. Iris is not one of them, so we get all of this incredible content that is made in southern Indiana.”
About 40 to 50 films were submitted. A group of programmers narrowed the selection down to a program lasting no more than 90 minutes, Sheaffer said.
The categories include documentary, narrative and experimental films.
Three judges will watch the films for the first time at the screening. Winners will receive cash and awards.
Many schools have festivals specific to students, but it is important for students to understand and engage with the wider Bloomington community, Sheaffer said.
“It’s really exciting to see the amount and breadth of content that is being made in a part of the world that I’ve become very fond of,” Sheaffer said.
Brandon Walsh, who graduated from IU in 2014, has two films in the festival. The film “Follies: Amongst Silhouettes” is a music video for Follies, a Bloomington-based solo project.
The other, called “Farmingdale, NJ,” is a film Walsh compiled from family home videos dating back to 1966. He said he created it for his grandfather, who was dying at the time he was working on the film.
Creating “Farmingdale, NJ” was an emotional experience involving people and places he knew at a different age and time, Walsh said. The film includes footage such as his mother getting on a school bus for the first time.
It was a race against time because he wanted to finish the film while his grandfather was still alive, Walsh said.
“He saw it before he passed, and that was really important to me,” Walsh said. “It’s probably the most emotionally satisfying thing I’ve ever done.”
Junior Joshua Byron’s film “Pedestrian” will be presented at the film festival. It is an “experimental personal narrative” with “avant-garde filming,” he said.
The film is about a hookup that leads to a discussion about religion, Byron said.
“Writing the script is my favorite part because you are shaping the bones of the film and wrapping it up,” Byron said.
Byron said he likes that Iris Film Festival involves experimental films because films that deviate from norms are fresh and invigorating.
Iris Film Festival has several experimental films this year, Sheaffer said.
The definition of an “experimental” film can mean many different things. Schaeffer said the experimental films in the festival include people who use funky animation and abstract visuals, as well as films that simply do not qualify as narrative or documentary.
“There’s lots and lots of different things that can qualify for an experimental label,” he said.
Sheaffer said he is happy filmmakers have the opportunity to see their own films screened at the IU Cinema.
“There is absolutely no venue that I’ve ever been to where films look as good as they do in the cinema,” Sheaffer said.
“I think, for the filmmakers, it’s really exciting because you get to enter this movie palace where you get to see these incredible films that are getting Academy Award nominations, and then you get to sit in the same exact seat and watch your own films.”
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