Vermont Arts Council

Cinema is Versatile in Spotlight Gallery’s Vermont State University Film Exhibit

A collage of film screenshots (clockwise from top left): “3.20.2000” by Lily Doton; “A Dark Place” by Norm Murphy; “Be Not Afraid” by Luke McGee; “Diabadass” by Jacob “Gonzo” Gonzalez; “I Deserve to Take Up Space” by Ruben Somda; Into the Forest by Maegon Courville, Cody Despins, and Madilyn Mogen.

When the filmmakers exhibiting in the Vermont Arts Council Spotlight Gallery’s current exhibit were asked in their online artist talk why film matters to them, their answers were as unique as their films, but they shared a common thread: film is one of the most versatile modes of creative expression.

That much is also clear from the array of short films exhibited in “Telling Stories Frame by Frame: A Vermont State University Film & Video Showcase,” which range from personal narratives and experimental mood pieces to documentaries, comedies, and more. The filmmakers are students and graduates of Vermont State University’s (VTSU) Communications program, which offers a concentration in Cinema Studies & Production on its Castleton and Lyndon campuses.

Some of the filmmakers from the exhibit shared their thoughts about film as an artform and the inspiration behind their films in an online artist talk and Q&A held March 8 and hosted by the Vermont Arts Council.

“La Movida Madrileña y Pedro Almodóvar,” a video essay by Molly Marcy, explores film in the Spanish countercultural movement that followed the death of dictator Francisco Franco. “It was one of my first videos I’ve ever made, and I tried to approach it as not just your typical video essay with narration…but to edit it in the style of Pedro Almodóvar’s films, very fast, flashy, and Spanish,” said Marcy. “I appreciate how films provoke feelings and capture precious, raw moments forever…they bring as much escapism as they do realism.”

“One of the main things that I really love about film is that it allows people to see, and to a certain extent experience, stories and perspectives that they may otherwise not ever be exposed to,” said filmmaker Lily Doton. “For me, as someone who cares deeply about social justice, it’s important to acknowledge how crucial art and especially film can be for social movements, and that’s often overlooked. But I think beyond that, film can also teach you a lot about yourself, at least that’s been my experience in watching and making films.” In Doton’s film “3.20.2000,” she narrates the story of her adoption over subtle sound design and family photos.

Wes Simard’s film “Gender Euphoria” features the voices of queer individuals sharing personal moments of gender euphoria over stock footage clips of nature and everyday objects. “It’s very accessible to make films,” said Simard. “You don’t have to have any resources to make films, I made my entire film using stock footage I found free on websites…It’s the art form that was the easiest for me to dive into and start making stuff that really captured what I was expressing.”

A screenshot of the online artist talk held March 8. Click to play the recording.

Ruben Somda’s film “I Deserve to Take Up Space” also made creative use of stock footage, mixing footage of the filmmaker dancing joyously with a variety of stock clips, all set to a song by Florence and the Machine. “I wanted to make a film that intentionally forced me to be the center of attention,” said Ruben. “A lot of the imagery I chose was purposefully to represent my journey of coming to the realization that I do deserve to take up space.”

These are just four of the 18 films featured in “Telling Stories Frame by Frame.” Explore the online exhibit for more creative and thought-provoking short films including “Metaverse” by Jake Before and Cody Despins, in which the line between virtual and physical reality blurs; Jacob “Gonzo” Gonzalez’s “Diabadass,” about a young diabetic seeking connection; Ariana Hausmann’s ode to the Castleton Free Library, “Welcome to the Library!”; Luke McGee’s “Be Not Afraid,” in which the voice of God narrates as two soulmates are about to finally meet; and many more.

To hear more from some of the exhibiting filmmakers, watch a recording of their online artist talk. “Telling Stories Frame by Frame: A Vermont State University Film & Video Showcase” is online in our virtual Spotlight Gallery through April 30.

View the exhibit