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  March 12, 2001

Student Organizations Stages First
Festival of Student-Made Films

Earthdance, the University's first festival of student-made films, took place Wednesday evening in von der Mehden Recital Hall.

Arranged and hosted by the UConn Student Film Organization, the festival focused on three films produced by the organization during the past year. The program also featured other student submissions and promos for films in production.

"I am giving the students tremendous credit for initiating the first festival on our campus of student work," said David G. Woods, dean of the School of Fine Arts. "Indeed, this could be a catalyst for a film area in the School of Fine Arts."

The first film shown was The Walk, a short movie directed by UCSFO founder and president Blake Harjes, who is an art major. Filmed on Horsebarn Hill, it explores the connections among art, life, and philosophy, while weaving in elements of naturalism, human sexuality and rites of passage. UConn students Christine Woolley and Jordan Monsell starred.

The Shower Project, an experimental film by Daniel Gould, was followed by Stupa: Power Place of Tibetan Buddhism, by William Swofford. The 40-minute documentary was written and filmed in Nepal in January, in conjunction with the UConn College of Continuing Studies Cultural Study in Nepal program. It investigates definitions of Tibetan Buddhism, emphasizing the stupas of Nepal, which are sacred monuments to the Enlightened Mind of the Buddha.

Harjes founded the UConn Student Film Organization last year in an effort to introduce filmmaking to the University. Since its creation, it has grown from a small club working with borrowed equipment to a fully equipped filmmaking organization. UCSFO has received funding from the University, including grants through the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Office of Undergraduate Student Government.

Harjes said he hopes Earthdance will inspire people to become involved in filmmaking. "I established UCSFO with the hopes of opening the doors for filmmaking within the University," he said. "In little over a year, we've done just that, with a diverse range of members from throughout the school. We're constantly looking for new projects, ideas and people."

For more information about Earthdance and the UConn Student Film Organization, contact Harjes at (860) 881-3611 or visit the organization's website.

Sherry Fisher