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BEST BYTES YET: NIU will present 10th annual student film festival

The Northern Illinois University Department of Communication will sponsor this year’s Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival this week. The festival is free and open to the public; anyone with an interest in film is invited. The festival is in its 10th year.

“The quality and breadth of subject matter this year is a huge step forward for Reality Bytes,” T.J. Hicks, graduate student and assistant director of the festival, said in a news release.

“By employing a new online submission system and aggressively marketing the festival to colleges and universities all over the world, we have seen a huge increase in film submissions,” Hicks said. “The quality of this year’s films is far and away the best we have ever screened.”

The film festival, which was originally started by Media Studies professor Laura Vazquez to give NIU students the ability to competitively screen their work, this year received more than 40 entries from all over the U.S. and as far away as the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand.

 Fourteen short student films have been chosen for screening at this year’s festival. A mix of both documentary and fiction films will be shown, all with running times of 30 minutes or less. The films chosen for screening range from comedy and drama to experimental pieces. Student film screenings will take place in the Jack Arends Auditorium, which is Room 100 of the Visual Arts Building.

Parking permits are not required after 7 p.m. in the several large parking lots near the Visual Arts Building, located just north of the campus lagoon.

At 7 p.m. Thursday,  also in the same location, the festival welcomes special guest Justine Nagan, executive director of Chicago’s Kartemquin Films, who will screen her new documentary, “Typeface.”

Nagan directed and served as a producer on the film, which chronicles a rural Midwestern museum and print shop in Two Rivers, Wis., where international artists meet retired craftsmen and together navigate the convergence of modern design and traditional technique.

According to Kartemquin, the documentary brings “a fascinating junction of historical and contemporary, as well as rural and urban America together for enjoyment and contemplation. The film will be of interest to art and graphic-design enthusiasts, to teachers as an educational resource, and to anyone looking for a film about perseverance and preservation in the heart of America.”

The screening will be followed by festival awards.

For more information about this year’s festival, including a full schedule with film descriptions, visit the event’s Web site at


Student Film Screenings

 8:45-10:30 p.m. Tuesday

• “Intrusion” by Evan Moore, University of Arizona, experimental video on the media and ideas invited into private spaces. 5 minutes.

• “Eddie and the Alternate Universe,” by Samuel Lemberg, Harvard, fiction – a 10 year-old boy, sent to another reality by an eccentric neighborhood wizard, must return to his world. 25 minutes.

• “In a Time without Love,” by Mark Strydom, South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance, fiction – an old man tells his daughter of his journey to pursue his love. 24 minutes.

• “Artzainak: Shepherds and Sheep,” by Jacob Griswold and Javi Zubizarreta, University of Notre Dame, documentary – Idaho immigrants earn wages in solitude as quiet caretakers of serene sheep. 15 minutes.

• “Another Day,” by Matt Weinstein, NIU, fiction – Nolan’s struggle with depression and writer’s block leads him to come to grips with a reality of uncertain events. 7 minutes.

• “In Between,” by Allison Maria Rodriguez, Tufts University – School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, fiction – explores a highly stylized method of storytelling to break down dichotomies of fantasy/reality, internal/external and self/other. 20 minutes.

• “Bob Seger Rocks,” by Timothy Tamisiea, Columbia College Chicago, documentary – 12-year-old Luke Casey, after 23 brain surgeries and hydrocephalus, is an inspiration to everyone he meets. 15 minutes.


8:45-10:30 p.m. Wednesday

• “Carpe Millennium,” by Eric Bednarowicz, Columbia College Chicago, fiction/comedy – to lose his virginity on the eve of the year 2000, a guy tells tales about knowing a famous celebrity, who shows up at the crucial moment. 19 minutes.

• “Bisnieta,” by Mario Contreras, Columbia College Chicago, documentary – on her 15th birthday, a young woman is confronted with the Latino tradition of quinceanera and its meaning to her family. 9 minutes.

• “Walter’s Wife,” by Andy Fortenbacher, fiction – curious 10-year-old James tries to find answers hidden within his dysfunctional  farm family in the 1950s. 20 minutes.

• “Who is Candy Bernardino,” by Erin Li, UCLA, fiction – a rich Italian grandfather, to escape his money-grubbing family, finds himself in an open casket needing to sneeze. 9 minutes.

• “Life by Joseph,” by T.J. Hicks and William Newman, NIU, documentary – about the struggle of artist Joe Gagnepain, the film offers a glimpse of how Joe sees the world and how others view him. 20 minutes.

• “The Magazine Girl,” by Peyton Lea, Elon University, fiction – college student Devin falls for a girl selling magazines on campus. 18 minutes.

• “Thomas,” by Yuri Butler, Towson University, fiction – a young woman notices she is being followed by a mysterious man. 9 minutes.


7-9 p.m. Thursday

 • “Typeface,” followed by festival awards.

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