Element Film Festival

Element Film Festival

Coble, Melynda
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Bozemanites are surrounded by big mountains, cold rivers, and vast valleys, but what many don’t know is that we’re also surrounded by creative folks who know how to tell great stories about these places we love to live in and the places we adore traveling to.

Enter Element—a free showcase of documentary films created by students in the Science and Natural History Filmmaking MFA program at MSU. Not your average documentaries, these films break the mold of traditional science documentaries.

“The films produced by students are generally far more interesting and thoughtful than what one sees on some of the cable channels,” explains Element festival director Henry Harrison. “Element is a chance for people to see some challenging, thoughtful, and entertaining films by up-and-coming filmmakers,” he adds.

Unlike many commercial documentaries that avoid controversial subjects in order to keep their funders happy, students have the opportunity to broach any topic they want. They have the freedom to tell the stories they find important.

Graduate program director Ronald Tobias adds, “Our students are not a bunch of slouches, they’ve won a lot of awards.” In fact, Science and Natural History Filmmaking student Praveen Singh won a first place National Student Emmy for Best Documentary in 2005, and Paul Hillman placed second in 2006.

The purpose of Element is to build bridges to the local community as well as showcase student work. “The students are good at getting films on the air and into other festivals,”
says Tobias. “But, the graduate program had been making a lot of films and we don’t get them out into the community enough.”

“Many of the films are on local issues or include local scientists or specialists, while others are more international in scope,” says Harrison. Students submit their films to the festival director, who then screens them for three judges. The judges choose the best films (and who wins the cash prizes and a showing) at the festival.

Element takes place October 11th in the theater at the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture. This free event begins with complimentary refreshments and cash bar at 6 pm followed by a series of films at 7 pm. For more information, visit element.naturalscinema.com or call festival director Henry Harrison at 570-8680.
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