Campus MovieFest returns to Berkeley

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SEPTEMBER 19, 2016

Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film festival, has returned to UC Berkeley for its 2016-17 season. Due to CMF traveling across the globe to college campuses and UC Berkeley’s own plan for each semester, the event hasn’t visited the campus since 2013. But after collaboration with two UC Berkeley film and entertainment organizations,  SUPERB Productions and GiANT filmmakers, CMF found its way back to the Bay Area.

“In my opinion, the reason why we’re coming back to Berkeley is because Berkeley is a giant hub of creativity; it’s known for the arts,” said Raghav Ravichandran, CMF’s promotions manager. “I think Berkeley has a lot of potential and we just wanted to bring it back and see the creativity flourish.”

The festival, which began in 2001, offers a different kind of philosophy. Unlike most student film festivals that ask for a film and leave the participants to their own devices, favoring students that have access to resources, CMF levels the playing field by offering free training and free resources to aspiring filmmakers. Participants can rent Panasonic LUMIX HD cameras, sound gear and a laptop loaded with Adobe Creative Cloud to make the best five-minute movie that they can. The catch? There isn’t one. The only requirement is that students must complete the film in a week to be considered for one of four Jury Awards.

The reason for this approach has its roots in the typical college experience. “The number one problem with college students (in regard to filmmaking) is — I was a college student last year — we’re all broke,” Ravichandran said. “We don’t have the money to buy camera equipment or Adobe Creative Cloud.” Oftentimes, the students that CMF attracts are the ones who haven’t made a movie before, including ones who never even thought they would try. “It’s just really about giving them that opportunity and making sure that people don’t feel discouraged just because they don’t have the resources,” Ravichandran explained. “We have good equipment for broke college students and at the end of the day, they don’t really have an excuse not to make a movie.”

Not many students had one, according to CMF, with more than 900 students and 45 teams participating in this year’s competition, which officially launched Sept. 7 and wrapped up the filmmaking period with collection of equipment and submission of films Sept. 13.

The CMF team had some informed expectations coming in, which have been delightfully fulfilled. “As a NorCal resident, I’ve been to Berkeley a ton of times. I love the energy and I love the kind of artistic environment that Berkeley provides,” Ravichandran said. “After having interacted with GiANT filmmakers, after having interacted with the filmmakers that came to our table and came to launch, I’m really excited.”

The excitement peaks this Friday, Sept. 23, at CMF’s red carpet grand finale in Berkeley. The night will showcase the 16 finalists and unveil the four Jury Award student films. Those four teams will have their films move on to compete against other universities’ Jury Award winners, along with special entries in the documentary and social justice competitions at TERMINUS, an entertainment event in Atlanta, in June 2017.

Even if the Berkeley winners don’t win the global competition, Ravichandran assured that the campus win can go a long way. From students who made films for the competition and went on to work with CMF, to a student who made his first movie for the festival and then moved on to make the Doritos commercial for a recent Super Bowl, the benefits are wide and various.

Even the experience itself can have an impact on all students. While there will only be four winners this coming Friday, the Berkeley film community will see intangible benefits, both personal and professional, from the experience alone.

The Campus MovieFest finale will be open to the public in the Pauley Ballroom at 8 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 23.


Contact Kyle Kizu at 


SEPTEMBER 18, 2016

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