Recent short films by two current visual arts students and one recent program graduate have received awards from the Thomas Edison Film Festival (TEFF). Films by Lola Constantino ’23 and Dylan Fox ’22 received Honorable Mention Awards, while recent Class of 2021 graduate Alexander Deland, Jr. earned a Director’s Choice Award. All three films won recognition earlier this year in various student juried competitions, but for the Thomas Edison Film Festival the students’ films were considered among professional entries from across the globe. As award-winning selections, each film will be included in the program for the internationally touring festival throughout the coming year.
The Thomas Edison Film Festival is an international juried competition celebrating all genres and independent filmmakers across the globe. For 40 years the Festival has been advancing the unique creativity and power of the short film. The Festival was founded in 1981 and was originally named for Thomas Edison’s West Orange, New Jersey, film studio, whose resemblance to the familiar black-box shaped police paddy wagons sparked the nickname “black maria.” The Festival’s relationship to Thomas Edison’s invention of the motion camera and the kinetoscope and his experimentation with the short film is at the core of the Festival.
On the Sidewalk, At Night, a narrative film shot on location on the Princeton campus, tells about a disillusioned young dancer who goes to the liquor store to drown her sorrows after a string of failed auditions. While waiting for her ride outside the store, her night is interrupted by a chatty stranger; hope and realism clash under the streetlights. The short film stars Austen Danielle Bohmer (Netflix’s Diana) and Misha Brooks (Paramount+’s Players).
A native of Pelham, New York, Deland discovered a devotion for storytelling his sophomore year in an introductory filmmaking class with professor Moon Molson. Switching his focus from sociology, he instead pursued an AB Degree in the Practice of Art track jointly offered through the Program in Visual Arts and the Department of Archaeology, along with certificates in the Lewis Center’s programs in theater and music theater. Since May 2021, Deland’s film has run in several festivals including deadCenter Film Festival, Stony Brook Film Festival, Lonely Wolf: London International Film Festival, Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, Gold Coast International Film Festival, The Hamilton New York International Film Festival, and in Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival, where it was a semi-finalist. He is currently at work on another short film, THE GR-‘EIGHT’ ESCAPE.
It’s not a love story about the girl getting the guy; it’s a story where two humans connect, part, and carry the moment they shared with them into the future.
— Alexander Deland, Jr.
The trailer for On the Sidewalk, At Night is currently available to watch; the full film will be available online as part of a Lewis Center senior thesis film gallery once the film finishes its festival run.
Constantino’s animated short film, wish u a good life, reimagines what an anonymous conversation online would look like if two strangers met on a subway. The conversation took place on February 21, 2021, between the filmmaker and an anonymous user on y99.in. The idea for her film was born out of the difficult circumstances of the global pandemic. Charged with crafting a film for her Documentary II class, Constantino chose to see the limitations of interviewing people face to face as a prime opportunity to instead conduct online interviews with subjects from around the world. Wish u a good life also earned top honors in August at the 2021 NJ Young Filmmakers Festival (NJYFF).
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Constantino’s passion for storytelling goes back to when she was a mischievous six-year-old drawing comics on her bedroom walls. She experimented with 3D animation and narrative filmmaking as a young teen, which gave her a multimedia background that supports her current work. As part of a multi-racial family, Constantino values identity and diverse representation, both themes that she investigates through filmmaking.
This is what I love about animation; its ability to visualize spaces that only exist virtually or in my imagination.
— Lola Constantino
Tuesday, a short documentary film directed, filmed and edited by senior Dylan Fox ’22, was created under the mentorship of Lecturer in Visual Arts BJ Perlmutt as part of Fox’s junior project for the visual arts program. In Tuesday, a young filmmaker tries to do good in the world by participating in a non-partisan political internship with the goal of making short videos that expand voting rights in America. Months later, he tries to piece together the failure of that internship, his own ambivalence to politics, and the depression he suffers after months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The film, which screened in May as part of the 2021 Junior and Senior Thesis Film Festival at the Lewis Center, was also named a semi-finalist at the Student Academy Awards run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Fox is a 2021 Alex Adam ’07 Award recipient also majoring in the Practice of Art track with a focus on filmmaking and screenwriting. During summer 2021, he used the funds from his Alex Adam Award to complete a draft screenplay for a full-length feature film and an hour-long experimental film.
This year will mark the fourth year that the Lewis Center has collaborated with the Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium to host the premiere screening of the Festival. Following the festival premiere at Princeton on February 19, 2022, all the selected films will be made available for screenings in the U.S. and abroad.
To learn more about the Thomas Edison Film Festival and Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium, visit blackmariafilmfestival.org.