Students and friends celebrate filmmaking at 2023 Student Film Festival


Samuel Colmar

Awards sit on a table during the 2023 Student Film Festival on Friday, April 28, 2023, in the Gatton Student Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

Ale Scrivner, Reporter

The University of Kentucky Student Organizations and Activities partnered with UK Smart Campus and Courage Media to present the UK Student Film Festival on April 28, a showcase of short films created by and starring UK students from different colleges. 

Including the most submissions since the first festival in 2015, 24 films out of 30 were chosen to be shown in the Worsham Theatre for students, friends and families of the filmmakers and crew.

Over 200 students were in attendance, according to Eric Sanders, the media production manager for UK’s College of Engineering.

Sanders co-founded the first film festival in 2015 as a student studying media arts and studies, alongside Kirk Laird, manager of the Learning Spaces Labs for UK’s Information Technology Services.

“We were showing as many of our friend’s films as we could and it’s just kind of snowballed into what it is today, bringing all the colleges together,” Sanders said. 

In total, 22 student filmmakers had their films showcased and divided into categories of nonfiction, fiction, super short, documentary and animation. The films’ genres ranged from thriller and drama to love and loss.

Patrick Wantz, a senior marketing and management major with a certificate in international film studies, submitted two films: “Jasper’s Lifeline” and “Green Hearts,” the latter of which won the award for Best of Show Nonfiction. 

“Green Hearts” is a short film that aims to destigmatize mental health, depression and suicide as well as create and open up a conversation. 

“The focus was more on impact, and it made me relax and emotional to know that the film did its job,” Wantz said.

Submissions were open to students from all colleges, not just those studying media arts and film. 

Sanders said it’s valuable to keep away from academics and colleges to take pressure off students.

Maria Folio, a junior studying media arts studies, starred in Abigail Brannon’s film, “Smile, You’re On Camera” and her own film, “Bone Appetite.” Her film was submitted as part of a film class she was taking. 

“I, hopefully one day, will want to go into the industry, so I’d like to keep making films in some capacity,” Folio said. 

Charlie Dolin, a junior food science major, was asked by Folio to star in “Smile, You’re On Camera” and accepted despite having no experience in film. 

“It’s something I’ve never done before so it was really fun,” Dolin said.

She said she’s happy to have the experience, but isn’t looking to pursue a career in film. 

In total, eight awards were given at the end of the night, ending the celebration of filmmaking.


Complete list of winners:

Best of Show Fiction: “Feller in the Cellar” by Jackson Dunavant 

Best of Show Nonfiction: “Green Hearts” by Patrick Wantz 

Best Documentary: “Answer the Bell” by Grant Grubbs 

Best Animation: “Blue Day” by Angel Varillas 

Best Super Short: “Last Kiss” by Matthias Acree 

Best Performance: “Feller in the Cellar” by Jackson Dunavant 

Audience Choice: “Faded Perception” by Jonah Hildreth 

Honorable Mention: “Kintsugi” by Paul Allison