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Lights! Camera! Action! Cinema department to host showcase

Stephanie Lefler and Donovan Mellen work on a documentary for the BJU film showcase April 24. Photo: Ethan Rogers

The University family is invited to enjoy the product of hundreds of hours of creativity and dedication as the cinema department showcases film projects produced by the faculty and students in a premiere titled “Storytelling with Film” tonight at 7 in Stratton Hall.

The theme, “Synergy,” refers to “one thing working together with another” and helps to unite the wide variety of films.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Christopher Zydowicz, a faculty member in the cinema department. “All of these moving parts come together—faculty working with students, students working with faculty—to create something that is a unified whole.”

The showcase includes a three-part documentary produced by the seniors for the BJU Museum & Gallery location in downtown Greenville. The three graduating seniors, Donovan Mellen, Stephanie Lefler and Ruth Ann Beam, worked together on vignettes about an art forger during the Nazi era. The documentary features a man who fooled everyone in such a clever way that the Nazis were humiliated, Zydowicz said. The Museum & Gallery will display this documentary series for visitors starting this fall.

For the first time, a selection of sophomore films will also be shown on the big screen, along with the senior and faculty projects. The two sophomore films that were chosen are the five-minute films of Brian French and Destry Edwards.

Edwards’ short film shows the synergy that happens between the Internet and a person, particularly the dangers of cyberbullying.

French crafted the images in his film to express the beauty in a son’s love for his mother.

“This is a big deal for these sophomore films to be shown,” said Sharyn Robertson, head of the department of cinema. “The quality of their work at this point in their education is impressive.”

A charming comedy directed by Jess Young, who graduated in December with her degree in cinema production, will add laughter to the evening as it brings comic relief to the showcase through the integration of a selfie to tell the story.

The evening will conclude with “Saffron’s Sonnet,” Robertson’s thesis project for her MFA from National University in California. Story development for the film began in September 2013, and the production stage began in September 2014. From start to finish, the cast and crew included 65 people.

The short film tells the story of a girl finding hope in God after being sexually assaulted. “I wanted to tell a story of hope no matter what I chose, and I felt the topic of sexual assault was relevant to the world we live in,” Robertson said. “I wanted to show that there is always hope in Christ.”

Robertson said she desires to make a positive impact in the lives of others through her film. “I’ve already been contacted by people who say the film made a difference in their lives,” Robertson said. “This is what it’s all about.”

All of these students and faculty members have worked for a year or more to tell a story for just a few minutes, but those few minutes have to be so powerful that they lead the audience into the understanding of a complex idea and the desire to discuss it afterward, Zydowicz said. “This year is about powerful images and using them to express and to talk about bigger ideas,” Zydowicz said.

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Lights! Camera! Action! Cinema department to host showcase