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Open Frame Film Festival

By James Gray Jr.

Student Directors Talk at the 2021 Open Frame Film Festival. Photo by Ella Myrthil

This time of year brings the annual Open Frame Film Festival, hosted at the Canton Palace Theater. The festival offers a night for the Malone community to screen the films they have been creating, and is open to all students, alumni and the general Malone community. This year the festival will be on April 28 at 7 p.m.

The festival started from an idea 20 years ago, and has since been a lasting tradition and something that many Malone students look forward to. 

“[The festival is] a celebration of student work,” Dr. Andrew Rudd, chair of the communication arts department and director of the Open Frame Film Festival, said. “There are a lot of people there to watch [the creators’] movies. It is a very charged experience because the process of making a film is plagued by problems, so showing it gives a great emotion.”

“I started the Open Frame Film Festival because I was just excited for students to try and make something and use their creativity,” Rudd said. “I had no idea what would come in from the students, but I was delighted by the variety of stories that were told. I wanted to diversify the students having films, as well as the stories being told.”

“Essentially, for me, it’s all about creating opportunities for students, especially the creators,” Rudd said. “I get a great deal of happiness when I see students come out to support their peers and their movies. My heart is always with the filmmakers. I know for many of them, they think that the film does not really exist until people see it.” 

“Every year I am astonished at what Malone students accomplish,” Rudd said. “I like to be surprised the night of the festival to see all the great work that the students put out, and watching all their peers be just as surprised as me. This is a festival for students, by students, so it makes it so much more meaningful to me.”

Glendalynn Bergdorf, senior digital arts major, participated in the festival last year.

“It was a really good experience for me because I had never really done anything in film before; the one I entered was my first film I have ever made,” Bergdorf said.

“Anyone who comes to watch should expect to laugh, to see something that will challenge them a little bit and expect to deepen relationships with the filmmakers,” Rudd said. “More than that, they should have fun and enjoy the diversity of rich expression. At the end they should expect to vote at the end to pick their favorite.”

After the screening, select filmmakers receive awards in a variety of categories.

“I was grateful to actually win an award for my film — best documentary. Since the first film I ever made got some recognition, [the festival] really boosted my confidence,” Bergdorf said. “It is a great experience for all students because I never had much experience but got to be a part of something really great.”

“I was inspired to make a film because of a class that I am in right now,” Mitch Bodager, senior business administration major, said. “From this, I get to choose a character and make a documentary about that person using lighting, audio and words.”

“I went to the festival last year and I loved it, I thought it was really awesome,” Bodager said. “I thought that I would maybe want to enter something, but at that time I did not have any film classes. Then, I took this class this year and I got the opportunity to enter a film if I wanted to.”

“The basis of my film is that I will be interviewing my friends’ dad and how he suffered from a stroke a few years ago,” Bodager said. “Specifically, I will be talking about his recovery journey and what it looks like to have to relearn things through his life as well as how God’s faithfulness has shined through that circumstance.” 

“I think if people do not even choose to enter a film you can still attend and celebrate Malone students with their skills and abilities,” Bodager said. “If you choose to enter a film, your creativity will be celebrated so it is worth it to enter a film and even just attend.”

The Open Frame Film Festival is a tradition that will live on. This year there will be fewer COVID-19 restrictions, and just as much freedom of creativity to the film that students choose to make or the creativity that the audience gets to take part in.

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