Shining with Indie Spirit
By Jarad Petroske
In 1967 Lyndon Johnson was president, a movie ticket cost $1.25, and Humboldt State College students were organizing the campus’s first film festival. Half a century later, the festival is the oldest student-run film festival of its kind and even though the tickets have gone up (slightly) in price, it’s still one of the best deals going for moviegoers.
THE STUDENTS ORGANIZING this year’s event are ready to celebrate Humboldt Int’l Film Fest’s 50th anniversary with four nights of film at Arcata’s Minor Theatre, April 19-22. This year’s festival, for the first time, will include two screenings each night.
The festival—the world’s oldest student-run film fest—is a testament to the dedication of its student organizers. Every year, students enrolled in the film festival class sift through hundreds of submissions seeking the best and most interesting works. Submissions range from clever and quirky animations to mind-bending experimental films. Every once in a while, these independent films feature memorable actors or up-and-coming stars. “You get to see people like Kerry Washington before they’re big or you might say, hey, ‘I saw him in The Matrix!’ That’s one of the coolest things about independent film festivals like ours,” says Film major Nairobys Apolito, one of the festival’s three student co-directors.
According to a 2002 edition of the Osprey, Humboldt State’s student-run magazine, the festival got its start from the National Student Film Festival in Washington, D.C., which collected student films and shared them all over the country. Some of those films—including George Lucas’s highly regarded 1967 student film “Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB”—made it to Humboldt State College.
The original 1967 HSU film festival was sponsored by the Theatre Arts Division’s “experimental college”—a student-led trial of hands-on learning that emphasized workshops in areas like costume and set design, lighting, and, yes, organizing film festivals.
Over time the festival has grown, moving from the Sequoia Theater (today the Van Duzer Theatre) to Arcata’s Minor Theatre and inviting professional filmmakers serving as judges to select the winning films. This year, as in the past, the panel of guest judges will lead intimate workshops with current students, discussing their careers and the film industry.
What hasn’t changed is the students’ desire to expose North Coast audiences to cutting edge storytelling while celebrating the works of independent filmmakers. “These are films made without Hollywood in control,” says Film major Andrew Weisz, a festival co-director. “You get to see filmmakers doing their own thing.”
Two Alumni Among this Year’s Festival Judges
THIS YEAR’S JUDGES are actor-director-producer John Oluwole Adekoje (‘04, Theatre Arts MFA) and Tracy Boyd (’98, Philosophy & ’03, Theatre Arts MFA), both alumni of the 33rd Humboldt International Film Festival.
The judge’s panel also features award-winning director and Fulbright Scholar Patricia Cardoso who is known for her feature film, “Real Women Have Curves,” which won a Sundance Film festival Audience Award in 2002.
50th Humboldt Int’l Film Fest | April 19-22
Arcata’s Minor Theatre
Wednesday, April 19—Animation/Experimental Night
Thursday, April 20—Documentary Night
Friday, April 21—Narrative Night
Saturday, April 22—Best of Fest
hsufilmfestival.com for times of screenings