CSU student and alumni films to screen online for inaugural film festival

Through the Student Lens logo
Through the Student Lens Film Festival will take place virtually from May 3-17, 2021.

by Usama Alshaibi

The inaugural edition of CSU’s Through the Student Lens Film Festival is scheduled to premiere online at 6 p.m. on May 3 and run through May 17. With a total runtime of just 57 minutes, the festival features 23 short films made by students and recent alumni 

The films run two to four minutes in length and vary widely in topic, approach, and style. Many of the films focus on local campus issues and students’ experiences. Selections were made by student and faculty programmers with the goal to showcase and celebrate impressive films made by students and alumni. Moreover, the festival has largely been led by the creative efforts of students Lauryn Ritchie, Zara Allen, and Kendall Constable.  

Through the Student Lens was originally planned and scheduled for an in-person premiere in late March 2020. The film festival was postponed, expanded, and shifted to an online format. Tickets are free and films are available to view at https://tsl2021.eventive.org  

Scene from a student short film: woman on sofa with hands covering her eyes.
Scene “2016, ” directed by Johnna Vasselli

“Most of these films were made only using a smart phone and free editing tools,” notes the festival’s program director, Usama Alshaibi, teaching associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State University. Many of the featured films were made by first time student filmmakers in Alshaibi’s SPCM class, The Personal Lens-Making Media.  

Through the Student Lens Film Festival is divided into two programs. Program 1 is titled “Before,” referring to before the pandemic, and addresses topics such as death, anxiety, and hate groups on CSU’s campus. Program 2, titled “After,” is composed of films that were made during the pandemic and examine the issues students faced as a new reality took hold of their lives.  

Alshaibi says, “Not only do these films express the inner lives of students today, but this is also a historical record of a generation deeply impacted by our global pandemic.”

Poster from short film "Soul Search". Scene from a cemetery with sheet covering a fire hydrant
Poster for "Soul Search," by Maddie Steele.

The films screening in Through the Student Lens were made between 2018 and 2020. One unique mark of this film festival is that many of the films screening were made during the COVID-19 pandemic and candidly explore the uncertainty of lives disrupted.  

Alshaibi notes that this is the first edition of the festival, but he hopes that it will become an annual event on campus to promote and celebrate student films and elevate student voices.  

Watch the festival films for free May 3-17 on any computer, tablet, device, or stream to smart TVs. For film access and more information visit: https://tsl2021.eventive.org  

Through the Student Lens Film Festival is supported by Colorado State University’s Department of Communication Studies and the ACT Human Rights Film Festival.