Ds Scholarship

Embrace, support film festivals – Northern Star

Ivan Meza

Reality Bytes is an independent student film festival at NIU.

This past week, I got to attend the Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival and was absolutely mesmerized by the films being made by students. As a filmmaker, I feel jealous of their work, but inspired to make stories of my own. But as Reality Bytes has come back to NIU, it’s important to know that there are hundreds of film festivals across the country and they deserve our support.

The purpose of a film festival is very simple: screen films of various lengths to an audience. Some film festivals exist as places for big filmmakers and studios to meet, look at films from across the globe and secure distribution rights to make money. Some of the biggest film festivals of this type include Cannes, Sundance and South by Southwest.

These film festivals have undeniably affected cinema. The entire industry takes a look at them. They have also been responsible for talented and famous filmmakers like Steven Soderberg, Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson, Kevin Smith and Ryan Coogler.

Then there are smaller festivals which are meant to just show films and be celebrations of filmmakers. Reality Bytes is one of them. It’s a festival that showcases student films, foreign and domestic alike, that have been made independently from any studio system.

Festivals that specialize in independent films are incredibly important because many of the films are not going to be shown in theaters. Short films rarely get that distinction and most theaters only screen independent films if they are distributed by a major studio.

But seeing these films can be very beneficial, especially if you’re a little disoriented from the onslaught of major blockbusters. Several of the attendees of Reality Bytes loved several of the films screened, films they might have not seen if not for the festival.

One film that was popular was the Israeli film “Vlada Goes to London” by Arti Savchenko.

“I loved this film,” said Ray Krug, a first-year communications major. “It reminded me so much of ‘Titane’ and I loved the main character.”

Another beloved film of Reality Bytes was Max Shoham’s Canadian animated film called “Sophie and Jacob.” The film told the story of how Shoham’s grandparents met while they were fleeing the Nazis during the Holocaust. One person who found it especially powerful was Kelly King, a first-year journalism major.

“The fact that it was made by their grandson about how they met was so meaningful, wholesome and touching,” King said.

Film is often seen in movements. When one style becomes tattered and no longer serviceable, another comes to take its place. When we go to film festivals and we see what’s being done by young filmmakers, foreign filmmakers and filmmakers working outside of the big leagues, it shows us a glimpse of the future and its raw potential. It’s an important part of cinema that needs to gain more attention, especially smaller festivals.


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