For student filmmaker Annie Santaniello, the chance to show her documentary “A Slice of Heaven” to an audience was an exciting experience.
“Southern hasn’t done student film festivals before and I thought it was great to see everyone’s stuff up there. Everyone worked hard,” said Santaniello, a senior video production major. “It was just nice to see it on the big screen.”
Santaniello’s documentary about Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria took home the prize in the documentary program category at S.C.U.F.F. – Southern Connecticut University Film Festival – which was held May 5.
“(Making the film) was a good experience,” said Santaniello. “I loved going to Pepe’s, learning about the history of Pepe’s and I wanted to convey that to my audience.”
S.C.U.F.F. was a collaboration between the communication department and SCSU TV. There were three categories for films – documentary, experimental and narrative, and the audience could vote for a winner in each category. There was also a Best of Fest Award and Best of Fest runner-up award that were judged by
four faculty members.
Derek Taylor, an assistant professor of communications, said he and other communications professors had been thinking about a student film festival for a few years.
“Our students do really creative and interesting work, so it’s just something that we’ve had in the back of our heads for several years now,” said Taylor. “At my previous institution, we had done showcases of student work, so I just thought it would be a great event to bring the film community at Southern together, not only in the communication department but the whole campus, and from what we saw tonight there was a pretty
Taylor said that Nick Corsano, a sophomore video production major and the technical director of SCSU TV, approached him about putting together a film festival.
“Mike Bay (a communications professor) and I had been talking about it for a couple of years,” said Taylor. “Nick (Corsano) just came up to us one day and said, ‘Let’s do this.’”
Corsano, who showed his film “Expressions of a Philosopher’s Demise,” said the festival took teamwork.
“They helped with the student aspect – getting people involved to submit things,” said Corsano. “We did the financing, some of the grunt work, things like finding a place for people to submit their films to.”
Twenty-two films were submitted to the festival and were screened by a committee to select the top films that were to be shown. According to Taylor, the films were graded on technical merit, creativity, originality and story. The top scoring film took home the Best of Fest Award.
“We rated it on a scale of 20. And I think most of the films that were 12 or 14 or higher got in,” said Taylor.
“The seven (that were not shown), we didn’t necessarily reject them. We just wanted to keep the program around an hour so we didn’t have space for some of them.”
The winning films were: “Frank Pepe’s: A Slice of Heaven” by Santaniello, “Expressions of a Philosopher’s Demise” by Corsano in the experimental program category and “Wet Paint” by Mike Dempsey in the narrative category.
“Wet Paint” also took home the night’s highest honor. “Eclectic,” an experimental film by Kaitlyn Leidy, was runner-up.
Taylor said he was impressed by the turnout at the event.
“It was amazing,” said Taylor. “I don’t know what happens here on a Wednesday night but they just kept
coming in the back door.”