Embrace, Support Film Festivals – Northern Star

Ivan Meza

Reality Bytes is an independent student film festival at NIU.

Last week I was able to attend the independent student film festival Reality Bytes and was absolutely mesmerized by the films made by the students. As a filmmaker, I feel jealous of their work, but inspired to make my own stories. But as Reality Bytes has returned to NIU, it’s important to know that there are hundreds of film festivals across the country and they deserve our support.

The purpose of a film festival is very simple: to show films of different lengths to an audience. Some film festivals are places where major filmmakers and studios can meet, watch movies from around the world, and secure distribution rights to earn money. Some of the biggest film festivals of this type include Cannes, Sundance and South by Southwest.

These film festivals have undeniably left their mark on cinema. The whole industry is watching them. They have also been responsible for talented and famous filmmakers like Steven Soderberg, Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson, Kevin Smith and Ryan Coogler.

Then there are smaller festivals that are only meant to show films and celebrate filmmakers. Reality Bytes is one of them. It is a festival that presents films by students, foreign and domestic, which have been made independently of any studio system.

Festivals specializing in independent films are extremely important because many films will not be shown in theaters. Short films rarely get this distinction, and most theaters only show independent films if they are distributed by a major studio.

But seeing these movies can be very beneficial, especially if you’re a little confused by the onslaught of big blockbusters. Many of the Reality Bytes attendees loved several of the films screened, films they might not have seen without the festival.

A popular film was the Israeli film “Vlada Goes to London” by Arti Savchenko.

“I loved this movie,” said Ray Krug, a freshman communications student. “It reminded me so much of ‘Titanium’ and I loved the main character.”

Another beloved film from Reality Bytes was Max Shoham’s Canadian animated film “Sophie and Jacob”. The film tells the story of meeting Shoham’s grandparents while fleeing the Nazis during the Holocaust. One person who found it particularly powerful was Kelly King, a freshman journalism major.

“Having it done by their grandson about how they met was so meaningful, wholesome and touching,” King said.

Film is often seen in motion. When one style becomes tattered and no longer usable, another comes in to take its place. When we go to film festivals and see what is being done by young filmmakers, foreign filmmakers and out-of-court filmmakers, it gives us a glimpse of the future and its raw potential. It’s an important part of cinema that needs to get more attention, especially at smaller festivals.