Festival Review: UCSD Film Fest 2023 — A Great Sequel


Hector Arrieta, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Aliens, Terminator 2, and Shrek 2 are some of the best sequels that improve upon the original, which is no easy feat, but this improvement on the original seems to come easy for Triton TV’s UCSD Film Festival in its sophomore season. 

UC San Diego has a bad reputation when it comes to our social life. We are infamously known as “UC Socially Dead”, and a large part of this is due to the lack of certain “activities” — namely, parties. Although UCSD isn’t known for its larger-than-life parties, its communities run deeper than any amount of liquor that could flow through the veins of a college student. This bond between students and the communities they form may best be exemplified by the cinephiles that roam all throughout campus. Many of these cinephiles take time out of their busy schedules to contribute to Triton Television (TTV), UCSD’s premier student film studio. And, of those who participate, a select few take on the monumental task of organizing an event that not only corrals all of the club’s members to make their visions a reality but also attracts the general student body to join in as spectators. While a party can unite people for temporary pleasure, the folks at TTV do something greater: unite people with a common passion and create lasting memories through the UCSD Film Festival. 

This year’s UCSD Film Festival took place on Feb. 25-26 at Price Theater, showing significant improvement from the previous year. In this edition of the festival, 86 films were submitted compared to the 76 of last year, and a total of 36 films were screened, which was four more than in 2022. The absolute range of themes and topics in all the films was just astounding. There were films that highlighted the experience of psychedelics like “L$D” and others that revolved around an omnipresent inflatable lobster who sought to remind its owner about what it means to be carefree in a capitalist society in the aptly named “LOBSTER!” Every movie I attended was a joy to watch — and the audience in attendance seemed to agree.

Through the two-day event, there was a grand total of 1,380 people in attendance, which blows the 2022 festival’s attendance of fewer than 500 completely out of the water. Even with the strong downpour on the first day people still showed up, ready to watch the visions of their fellow Tritons come to life. The beginning and end of each film were met with enthusiastic applause and people screaming out their friends’ names when they appeared on screen. 

“It feels really great seeing people’s reactions to something you make, seeing if things are working the way you intended them to,” commented London Huang, a senior who worked on multiple films screened at the festival. “I love having so many people come out and watch these.”

My favorite aspect about the entire festival was that each project showcased a particular forte, whether that be through cinematography, writing, or acting. However, they all shared a similar strength: friendship. I could feel the tight sense of camaraderie emanating through the silver screen, and one of the best examples of this was through the film “The Case.” From the mind of first-year Andrew Lin, “The Case” takes inspiration from Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” as it recounts the story of a bank heist gone wrong through multiple perspectives. As I watched the film, it felt like the actors had known each other for ages, all working off each other’s energy. However, much to my surprise, none of the actors knew each other prior to the film. They had only met each other when they signed up for TTV’s 48-Hour Film Festival and began creating Lin’s vision. 

“The thing about the 48 [Hour Film Festival] is that it really bonds you together,” began Gabriella Mostamand, a second year in the film, “because you’re just with a random group of people, forced to do a project. So we got to spend a lot of time together, so now we’re all homies, it’s been a good time.” 

As renowned French new-wave director Jean-Luc Godard once said, “The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second,” and each film demonstrated the truth that UCSD and its student body are wholly capable of having the strongest bonds that warrant the removal of the albatross of “UC Socially Dead.” Thus, to say that the 2023 UCSD Film Festival was a success would be to undersell it. The UCSD Film Festival is a step in the right direction, not only for cinephiles but for the student body at large, in bringing us all together.

Image courtesy of Helix Creative Solutions