UT student filmmakers present non-fiction shorts at Knoxville Film Festival

Filmmakers and film lovers alike united for the 3rd annual Knoxville Film Festival. The festival was held at Regal Downtown West Cinema 8 from Sept. 17 to Sept. 20. On Saturday, Sept. 19 student filmmakers from UT showcased their non-fiction short films.

//Photo by Ryan McGill

Filmmakers and film lovers alike united for the third annual Knoxville Film Festival. The festival was held at Regal Downtown West Cinema 8 from Sept. 17 to Sept. 20. On Saturday, Sept. 19 student filmmakers from UT showcased their non-fiction short films.

Eight short documentaries were shown by UT Cinema Studies and Art students. Among them was a short entitled, “Mom.” It was written and directed by John McAmis, a junior at UT who created his own animation major.

McAmis created a minimalistic short which focused on objects and landmarks in one shot while his voiceover gave a personal narrative of the heartbreak he has faced in dealing with his strained relationship with his mom.

Alanna Wilkinson found audio tapes of her mother and father when they were dating.  Photo courtesy of Alanna Wilkinson
Alanna Wilkinson found audio tapes of her mother and father’s phone conversations when they were dating which sparked her idea for her short film. Photo courtesy of Alanna Wilkinson

“I kind of made the film with no intention of showing it to a large number of people,” McAmis said.

For McAmis, making the film was more of a therapeutic process for himself.

“It’s like an angry letter that you write to someone that you’re supposed to tear up,” he said.

Two of the films shown presented medical struggles faced by young children. “Be Brave, Be Strong” by Micah Russell told the story of Russell’s nephew, a young boy with a tumor in his spinal cord. The film depicted the little boy’s chemo treatments and his journey on the road to recovery.

Deja Lytle, a sophomore at UT, enjoyed watching the short documentary.

“A lot of the time when I hear the story of a sick person, it’s just this is what they have and this is what they are doing,” Lytle said. “This film felt more personal. I could see a kid going through this thing, but he also loved Spiderman and playing. It wasn’t just about his sickness.”

While most of the films contained heavy subjects, some were more lighthearted. Alanna Wilkinson created a short using audio tapes that she found of her mother and father when they were first dating. The film depicts a history of their relationship and how her mother moved to America from the Philippines to marry her father.

“I was taking a more narrative approach with my film,” Wilkinson said. “True love is often seen as an unreachable thing, but I wanted to tell their story to show that true love is actually not a myth.”

After the films were shown, the student filmmakers got to answer questions from the audience.

“I hope that the audience walked away with some kind of relation to the story,” Wilkinson said. “Whether they came from an immigrant family or not, there’s still an underlying theme of love, and I feel like that is something everyone can relate to in one sense or another.”

The film festival concluded Sunday with a screening of the festival’s best documentary short and best documentary feature as well as best Tennessee film, narrative short and narrative feature.

For a list of this year’s winners check out the festival’s website by clicking here.

Featured Image by Ryan McGill

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt

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Food aficionado, Jessica Carr, believes her passion for food first began while learning to cook Asian and southern cuisine with her mom. Now a senior journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Carr combines her love for writing and food by cultivating restaurant reviews through her blog. As newly appointed Editor-in-chief of the Tennessee Journalist, the official news website for UT's School of Journalism, Carr plans to build experience and one day be the editor of a food magazine. When she isn’t writing, she’s most likely in a theater enjoying the latest indie film.