Screening of five short films by Princeton seniors
The Program in Visual Arts in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University will present a Senior Thesis Film Festival featuring five new short films by students in the Program: Spirits Vale by Cameron Johanning, Scratching the Surface by Gerson Leiva, Cueing Ashlyn by Lydia Cornett, and Wait by Charlotte Maher Levy, as well as a work-in-progress, Rip the Dream, by Grayson Shepperd. The screening, on Saturday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street, is free and open to the public.
The five student filmmakers are pursuing degrees or certificates in addition to their major areas of study in the Program in Visual Arts with a focus on film.
Cameron Johanning‘s short film, Spirits Vale, incorporates animation and live action to create the immersive and disturbing journey of Daniel, a college student, who unwittingly becomes a stalker. Johanning is a senior from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin concentrating in English. He has produced multiple short films through his coursework in the Program in Visual Arts, including The Night Shift and Equality, which received an Honorable Mention for Princeton’s Program in Human Values Short Film Prize in 2014. For the past two years, Johanning has served as president of Princeton Film Productions, an undergraduate group that hosts workshops, produces films, holds screenings, and organizes two yearly film festivals. Johanning is also a member of the Princeton Tigertones, an all-male a cappella group.
Scratching the Surface, by Gerson Leiva, underlines the importance of graffiti in international and urban culture with a focus in Berlin, Germany and Trenton, New Jersey. Though graffiti has been stigmatized and viewed as something damaging to society, Leiva has taken an ethnographic approach and learned to “understand that this art form is meant to be provocative. Its purpose is not only to stir up dialogue about sensitive information but also to beautify decayed spaces.” Leiva is a sociology concentrator from Trenton and has produced multiple short films through courses in the Program in Visual Arts including Javy, which documents the life and art of a musician from the Canary Islands of Spain. On campus, Leiva is also a Latin dancer.
Cueing Ashlyn, by Lydia Cornett, follows a family’s struggles to communicate with their five-year-old daughter who is newly deaf in the midst of a continuous medical battle. Cornett, a history major hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, recently won first place in the college/independent category at the 2015 New Jersey Young Filmmakers Festival for the writing, directing, and editing of her film, Headphones, which is about a pair of headphones that has an unexpected effect on its listener. Cornett has held a number of internships and jobs in film production, including interning for Little Monster Films where she assisted in the editing and distribution of the film Meru, creating promotional video interviews for the self-publishing company Author Solutions, and conducting and filming interviews with families and teachers of children who are deaf through Cue Cognatio. On campus, Cornett plays the violin with the Princeton University Orchestra and serves as a videographer for multiple campus organizations.
Charlotte Maher Levy‘s film, Wait, follows conservative Christian YouTube “vloggers” Justin and Kailey. Their YouTube channel, “Love Will Wait,” preaches “Christian” dating values, including premarital abstinence. On the first night of their honeymoon, Simone, an escort hired by another couple at the resort, mistakes Justin and Kailey for the couple that hired her. Levy, originally from Maplewood, New Jersey, is an English concentrator pursing certificates in film and creative writing. Levy has created multiple short films through her studies in Princeton’s Program in Visual Arts, including courses abroad in Kenya and at University College Dublin. Levy’s junior independent work in the English department focused on multimedia portrayals of mental illness while her junior independent work in the Program in Visual Arts included a short film and a video diary, produced while studying abroad in Dublin. She also wrote and directed the short film The Lemonade Stand during her junior year. On campus, Levy is co-president of Princeton Film Productions, host of the Emerging Writers Series Committee, and a member of the Women’s Mentorship Program.
Grayson Shepperd‘s work-in-progress, Rip the Dream, is an animated film that tells the story of Reese, a girl who finds herself alone in a wide, strange universe. As she drifts through dream-space she encounters a mysterious boy who dredges up the darkness in her past. Shepperd, who is from Washington, D.C., enrolled at Princeton planning to major in engineering but switched to visual arts with an emphasis on film and video production through a collaborative program between the Department of Art and Archaeology and the Program in Visual Arts. In last year’s advanced narrative film production course Shepperd created a segment of the feature-length film produced by the class and based on the play Venus in Fur, in which he employed a combination of stop motion animation and footage of the actors’ faces. His junior independent work, Medusa, a subversion of the Greek myth of Medusa and Perseus, was done with hand-drawn animation. On campus, Shepperd has been a member of Princeton’s varsity wrestling team for four years.