NYFTSA Hosts Story 2020 Conference

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WARREN CHRISTOPHER GREEN

Many of the student filmmakers who participated in the festival attended the Story conference to receive their awards.

By WARREN CHRISTOPHER GREEN, Contributing Writer

On March 7, Fordham’s chapter of the New York Film and Television Student Alliance (NYFTSA) hosted the second annual Story 2020 conference. Filmmakers, journalists, union representatives and more held panels about the business of film and television, as well as different ways to use the medium for storytelling.

The day culminated in the NYFTSA’s first Fordham One-Minute Film Fest, hosted by Christopher Merola, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’20, student ambassador of the club, and professor Heidi Bordogna. 

Professor and screenwriter Jim Jennewein produced the first NYFTSA summit conference at Fordham in 2017. 

About film students at Fordham, Jennewein said, “I am continually blown away by the high caliber of talent of our screenwriting students, and find that there is a robust depth of storytelling talent here.” 

The One-Minute Film Fest did just that. Jennewein commented on how the amount of rich depth a skilled storyteller can embed into only a minute of film is astonishing, and each of the films screened at the event exhibited this in an idiosyncratic way.

The categories for the contest were given as follows: best experimental, best animated, best documentary, best drama, best action/thriller and best comedy piece. 

Winning best experimental, “Rolling the Dice” — by Timothy Lee, Professional and Continuing Studies ’20 — incorporated stop-motion-esque movement of inanimate objects over layers of psychedelic, glowing screens and textures. The audio meshed perfectly with the visual sensations occuring on screen, creating a multisensory stimulus. Gazes quickly jump between the skittish objects, including a deck of cards laid out in symmetrical patterns shifting throughout the screen, and a set of translucent red dice that focus the piece.

Best animation went to “Unfinished Poem” by Rebecca Estrella, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’20, which drafts a dance of shapes and colors over a spoken-word piece written by Estrella. The frame by frame animation elegantly moves between scenes. Soft-colored, organic shapes bounce, dance and swim around the screen, juxtaposing a background of rigid, heavy-contrast geometric shapes and textures.

Taylor Ha, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ’20, diarized the art of Irish dance in “Erin Flynn for Competition,” earning her best documentary. Experience is obvious in the use of lighting, recording interview dialogue, and well framed shots on this piece. Ha also is masterful with her cuts, seamlessly transitioning between interview, action, and b-roll shots without jarring or disorienting her viewer. 

Collaborators Yang Xu, FCLC ’21, and Annie Du, FCLC ’20, took best drama for “The Mask.” A heartfelt, grayscale short about the effects of stigmatization in the face of the coronavirus epidemic, “The Mask” reveals an intimate phone call between a mother and daughter across the world. 

Best comedy was given to “Egg” by Miguel Bernal, FCLC ’23. Two policemen pursue a yolky offender to an apartment building. The refrigerator reveals an arsenal of 25 cartons of eggs, Bernal said. In the last few shots, we find out that the cop was the culprit all along. The climactic execution is enhanced by the classic, comedic flatline beep.  

Finally, Enrique Caballero, FCLC ’22, and Tommy Espinal, FCLC ’23, won best action/thriller for his piece “Eternal Damnation.” His antihero, played by Birch Davis, FCLC ’22, is seen pulverizing an off-screen corpse, coupled with a sound effect that’ll make your hairs spike. The next shots cover Davis fleeing the scene with the inference of a chaser. Caballero cleanly executes a dichromatic New York City noir vibe, with a moral Dante would adore. 

Receiving honorable mentions, “Behind the Eyeballs” by Chloe Griffith, FCLC ’20; “Evan Estelle” by Joe Rufini, Gabelli School of Business ’20; “The Flush” by Keith Bodmer, FCRH ’20 and “Late” by Polina Uzornikova, FCLC ’23, were further examples of how one little idea can become its own story universe in no time.