Film Fest entertains, scars students

A lone tree, barren of leaves, bows in the wind as the dark sky boils above. If this dark, artsy image is appealing, so would be this year’s annual Thespian Film Festival. Much like last year’s Best Cinematography winner, “Between,” all four films that made it into the festival this year followed a dark, nonsensical storyline. The films tended to favor excellent camerawork and impressive uses of contrast, while eschewing lesser concerns such as coherence. Every film festival has one or two dark, primarily artistic features, and they are an important facet of film. Still, their dominance of this year’s film fest has led to some concern. “It was good. I liked last year better, with more comic films like Johffris,” sophomore Dylan Clark said. The festival started off with One More Second, directed by senior Patrick Schmidt, and starring senior Bilal Kahn as Caleb, a young man who finds himself transported in and out of dreams, given cryptic messages by strangers as he tries to just keep driving. Filmed mostly at night, the film contains frequent shifts in lighting and scene as Caleb is moved in and out of consciousness. A television screen displaying nothing but static was also worshipped by the people around him. The film moved nearly seamlessly between these various dream states, and was given awards for Best Editing and Best Actor. Nightmare Opera, this year’s winner for Best Cinematography, followed, featuring a bizarre panoply of seeming unrelated, nonsensical scenes. At one point, an actor in the film also watched a television with static. However, it was easy to separate from the film before it – Nightmare Opera featured an unexdplained panda costume and horrified senior Anda Tanaka, who won the award for Best Supporting Actress. Unsurprisingly, the third film was so artsy it lacked both color and sound. “Der Käfig,” or “The Cage” showed four high school students being captured in a horse barn and poisoned by a man in a lab coat. Just as the audience thought all had been seen, the creators overturned any judgments that had been made with a surprising twist – the captured students had been carrying Nazi regalia, and the barn owner picked up a representation as he left. The silent film made by seniors Sam Bird, Nathan Davis, Marc Heitzman, Jason Kemis, and Zeke Musselman won an award for Best Soundtrack/Best Silent Film. The evening concluded with a Best Film award for “Christmas Clementine,” directed by Andrzej Jarecki. In a refreshingly lighthearted turn, the film featured a heartwarming Christmas party whose guests were all gruesomely killed by a jilted stranger in search of fruit. This year’s Film Festival contained several powerful messages for the students of Ames High – “just keep driving,” “don’t trespass in people’s barns,” “if a murderous stranger asks for fruit, just give it to him,” and “oh God, a panda!” While the dark trend in the films may be a sign of a similar mental problem in this year’s seniors, the audience managed to find the entertainment value in them. Though no traditional comedies were present, the dark humor in each kept everyone laughing. We can only hope that next year’s filmmakers