DeKALB – For the first time in three years, NIU’s Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival was held in person at 8 pm Tuesday and Wednesday in Cole Hall. 20 films, spanning multiple genres and originating from several countries, were screened with an audience of students watching.
Every year, Reality Bytes is put together by the students of Film Festival Administration, a communications course. With the 2020 and 2021 film festivals being moved online, there was much anticipation among the communications students who organized the festival.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Jocari Thomas, a junior majoring in communication, who was responsible for editing all the films together for screening.
Over the two nights, dozens of students, mostly from the department of communications, attended along with communications faculty and instructors. Some showed up to support their peers who organized the festival, including Jake Roskopf, a senior contract major, and Susanna Kemerling, a first-graduate student communication major.
“I came out tonight because some people in our class are involved so I wanted to come out and support,” Roskopf said.
Several students came out because of the different kinds of films that were being shown. Kemerling and Erica Johnson, a senior time arts major, both were interested in the animated films of night two: “Sagiso” and “Interior Designer.”
“I’m an art student so it was fun to watch,” Johnson said. “I am graduating but I would love to attend this festival again.”
Besides upperclassmen students, younger attendees were also fascinated by the two nights of film, especially since they were made by students and came from different countries including The United States, Canada, Israel, Iran, India, Poland and Costa Rica.
“I’ve been blown away the whole time,” said Kelly King, a first-year journalism major. “They’re like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
At the end of night two, the four best films of the festival, voted on by a panel of judges, were announced.
Some students in attendance were amazed that NIU organized a film festival and were delighted to experience films with a crowd of their peers.
“I used to go to film festivals back home so I was really excited when I learned NIU had one,” said Ray Krug, a first-year majoring in communication.
Now that the film festival is over, Laura Vazquez, the founder of Reality Bytes and professor of Film Festival Administration is excited for the in-person festivals of the future.
“I thought I would be relieved when it was all over, but I’m excited,” Vazquez said. “I’m glad we’re back, especially since the past two festivals missed this opportunity to be in-person.”
Students in attendance also fell in love with many of the films that were screened and are excited for what’s to come next year.
“I have been coming for the past two years and would come again,” Kemerling said.