Best of the Basement

When most of us think about student film, we can’t help but imagine shaky camera work, middle-school dialogue and plotlines that shoot leagues too far into the deep end.

Tonight, though — beginning 8 p.m. at the Loft in Price Center East — a lineup of short films will attempt to disprove that stereotype. They’re roughly seven minutes each, and they’re all part of the Up&Coming film festival: a showcase of the best and brightest camera work within the UCSD community.

According to Sixth College senior Liz Hood, the energy and quality of the films at the festival always varies. The film-studies department tends to employ more guest lecturers than permanent professors, making it difficult to predict the particular styles and influences likely to stand out each year.

This year, student directors have been blessed with inspiration from spirited professors like Michael Trigilio and Babette Mangoldte, who have made it a point to promote collaboration above individual isolation — ensuring diversity, if nothing else.

Established by Art Power three years ago as a way to celebrate innovation in the undergraduate circle, the festival consists of eight shorts in 2010, pre-selected by a jury of local film experts and critics. Each pick highlights student achievement in a specific area, including screenwriting, experimentation and narrative development.

“The students are doing wildly different kinds of work,” Trigilio said. “It really spans the gamut.”

Members of the review committee included KPBS film critic Beth Accomando and New York Museum of Modern Art video curator Rajendra Roy. But the true success of a festival will be measured by the caliber of its student entries.

“As the director, everything falls on you, so it’s really stressful,” senior Joanne Park — at the helm of “Just Curious” — said.

With a run time of 10 minutes, “Curious” is one of the longest pieces at the festival — a hefty undertaking that Park said required her to feed and pay actors from her own pocket, just so they’d sit through the end of grueling takes. Her dedication shows: Throughout the piece, Park’s HD camera captures her intricately control of color contrast and lighting, putting an eerily professional sheen on an otherwise familiar story about a student with a crush on his brilliant TA. Held up by Park’s clever script, the film is an arty look at a genuine, unpretentious slice of life at UCSD.

That same type of honesty characterizes Hood’s “Again Comes November” — a heartbreaking tribute to her departed friend Gho. Haunting narration explores a string of memories, told through black-and-white stagings of the silly, the romantic and the tragic — divergent moments that defined their relationship.

“Black-and-white has a certain separation from reality, Hood said. “And while memories are based on reality, they just aren’t.”

Though far-off moments range from prom to running through a park in nothing but underwear, each is brutally candid, demonstrating Hood’s ability to move an her audience by capturing head-on the type of yearning we often try to suppress.

“Nothing is worse than people who don’t understand you or [what] you’ve been through,” Hood said. “In sharing experiences, people learn that they’re not alone.”

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