By Benjamin Lucas
This Friday, amidst our vast spectrum of art and academic presentations, Union College hosted an afternoon screening of various short films written and produced by students right here on campus. Showcasing different genres and styles, the film program offered visitors a look at our many unique voices and talents. The series kicked off with “Union Baseball Legends,” a film by David Baretti about our very own baseball culture.
“Driven” (Benjamin Foreman, Anders Goetz) examines the frustration of a guy who gets fired from his job, much to the detriment and chastisement of his girlfriend. As he drowns his sorrows in a cup of coffee, he runs into an old friend who immediately offers him a job at a limo service, which we come to find may not just be a limo service, but it is a paycheck. Of course, things go south fast, and he finds that keeping his relationship intact may be the least of his problems.
Up next was “I Can’t Spell Sk-nek-tuh-dy,” a film that was described as experimental by its director, Benjamin Densieski, moments before our viewing. Comprised mostly of archived footage, we were treated to a look at our college town through Densieski’s lens spliced between stretches of Reagan speeches and General Electric propaganda. The film revels in jarring tonal shifts, from an early transition between a police shooting and cheery vintage b-roll, and then we’re back to an oddly muted present day in the same breath. This is far from a thorough history of Schenectady, but its distinct voice encapsulates something about our local area in a way that a more conventional documentary couldn’t.
The festival continued with “Brutes,” directed by Kewan Harrison and Joseph Laub and made outside the film program by their UCTV club, features actors from around Schenectady in a mob tale set primarily at a poker game, and then finished off with “For a Smoke,” about a soldier stuck behind enemy lines haunted by memories of a broken relationship (directed by Joseph Laub, Mollie Orr, and Sarang Sharma). These two in particular were examples of refined technical prowess, and both featured a quick cutaway from an explosion.
After the films followed a brief Q&A, where each of the filmmakers described their experiences working in the film department. That the department’s resources allowed these people to create five very different products, filmed mere blocks from Union College, is admirable. With hope, we will see these names on an even bigger screen.