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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Annual NIU student film festival returns


The 2024 Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival is just days away from its annual screenings of student-made films on Tuesday and Wednesay.

Tuesday’s screenings will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Cole Hall while Wednesday’s screenings will be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre.

This will be the first time in the festival’s over 20-year history that one of the screenings is at the Egyptian Theatre.

The event is free and open to the public.

With over 120 films submitted this year, the event will feature 21 student films over the course of two nights to compete for the top cash prizes.

Reality Bytes was established in 2001 by Laura Vazquez, a communications professor and undergraduate program director of media studies at NIU; she serves as the director of the festival, which was created with the intent to competitively showcase the work of film students.

With runtimes under 30 minutes, short films and documentaries can be submitted from high school, undergraduate and graduate students not just from the United States but from around the world.

Focusing on strong storytelling within their genres, the selected films can win cash prizes in their respective categories.

Winners of Best Animated Film and High School Short receive a $100 prize, and winners of Best Narrative Short and Best Documentary receive $300.

The short films have the chance to be voted the fan favorite of the night by audience members.

Attendees also have the chance to win prizes by participating in the festival’s raffle.

“We’ll be doing a drawing at the end, and there’ll be gift cards donated from local businesses around the DeKalb-Sycamore area,” said Rebekah Steele, a senior communications major and part of Reality Bytes’ social media team.

While filmmaking might not be everyone’s passion, students are encouraged to come to the festival to support other students’ works and possibly find something new to enjoy.

“It’s fun. We got some very interesting films that will make the audience really enjoy being there,” said Sergio Acosta, a senior business administration major and member of Reality Bytes’ social media team. “If you want to go and find something serious, there will be serious films, but there will also be funny films for everybody. Everybody will find something that they like.”

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