Annual Seattle U Film Festival Exposes Child-like Genius


Jordie Sim

Audience members in Pigott Auditorium awaiting the SUFF screening. / Jordie Simpson

Something about the colors, lighting and music of a film festival creates a harsh, unforgiving atmosphere. The talents that possessed the strangers, impassioned by their love of movie-making, haunted the Pigott Auditorium as viewers waited with anticipation to view up-and-coming artists. 

The 2023 Seattle University Film Festival (SUFF) made its return in-person for the first time since COVID-19 May 25, blanketing a full-house of friends, students, faculty and staff ready to be immersed in unique artistic minds. The SU Filmmakers club, the hosts of the festival, received a staggering amount of submissions—the most they’ve ever gotten before, according to Sydney Caba, fourth-year film major and president of SU Filmmakers—with an hour and a half program that featured 23 pieces of different mediums and content. 

“It’s just been laborious, trying to wrangle all the judges, encouraging people to submit.In the early stages of this, we started planning in January, we were really unsure if we were gonna have enough films to host the festival. I was shocked, but also really pleased to find out that when we closed submission two weeks ago, we had the most films that have ever been submitted to SUFF,” Caba said. “Insane.” 

Unlike Caba, who hopes to go into film after graduation, the movie-making effort is such a mystery to me. On the death of reality and on the ignorance of succumbing to a world so unlike your own, there’s a sort of imbecilic bliss bound tightly in the persuasion of a 2D flat world. One such entry was “Cast Me Away” by Danel Angelo Cortez, a fourth-year film major, whose music video animation was dripping with blood and downcast eyes. 

Another entry, “Like Flowers, Like Friends,” a short composed by First-Year Computer Science major Emre Selcuk, gave ode to the picture that is painted in “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Picture yourself on a hilltop in heaven with suburban youth, flying rose-mimicking kites. Obsessed with pale lighting and storybook aesthetics, the film continued in its lonesome serendipity.

(In conversation with Emre Selcuk.)

Jordie Simpson

HM: Tell me about the creation of your piece, it almost looked like a baby Wes Anderson film.

ES: “Yes, that’s exactly what our filmmaker Joshua [Chu] had in mind. He did the filming, I did the music. I did a first take while I was watching the video, none of it was written down, it was all improvised. Then, I realized how good garage band’s plug-ins were, so I just played around with it, played with some sounds and got some strings going and it just sounded really nice. It was really fun; this has always been a side hobby. I wasn’t the creative director behind it but I kind of made it happen when I was like ‘Let’s just go outside and film something.’”

HM: Were there any complications with the making of the film?

ES: “The fact that none of it was planned made it difficult to define our video, but thanks to Josh, he was able to work on a good story that fit. Once he got everything in a narration, getting the music done for it was super easy.”

These spontaneous efforts were pretty thematic in the production of these shorts. For the film called “HAM,” First-Years Mechanical Engineering major Ben Adams and Film Studies major Jack Brotherton, in a two-and-a-half minute picture dripping in warm yellows and nonchalance, reflected on the film’s quick escalation.

The two messed around with fish-eye views, strange replays and easy dialogues and sounds Adams had made using his synthesizer. It was a short vacuumed in a grunge psychedelia, high in saturation, screaming high-pitched audios which pulsated until its finish. The experimental culture dancing around soft exposures and ill saturations bullied viewers into an absolute frenzy, oh! You pretty things. 

(In conversation with Jack Brotherton.)

HM: How did you hear about the film festival? What inspired you to make your film?

JB: “I initially didn’t make this for the film festival, I just made it for fun and I was going to the Media Production Center and they were like ‘Do you have a film for the film festival?’ and I was like, ‘Oh, I just made this yesterday’, and put it in. At the end, it was inspired by Bobby De Keyzer, his new Quasi part, at the end they replayed his trick a bunch of times in slo-mo, [each clip progressively getting more trippy], so I got inspiration from that. It took like three hours.”

After the end of the showing, there was a buffet for attendees to connect with and give praise to the various filmmakers for all of their hard work, time given and the dedication to their craft. I understand now, much better than before, the need for showcasing student talent, trapping yourself inside child-like genius, inside this theater. I’d somehow camouflaged myself in between the actors and directors, drooling over the odd tempos and gore I didn’t know excited anyone. 

If you were unable to attend the physical showing, SU Filmmakers has all of the films available to watch on their YouTube, granting an online immortality to the creative and wondrous works of Seattle U students. 

It was all so pretty.