Film festival Reality Bytes showcases student talents


Communication professor Jeffrey Chown introduces the second night of the Reality Bytes Student Film Festival Tuesday night in Cole Hall. The festival showcased student films from across the country.

By Josh Alfrey

Incredibly imaginative stories were on the silver screen this week at NIU’s independent student film festival, Reality Bytes.

On Monday and Tuesday student films from across the country were on display for students and film admirers. Short movies from Stanford University to the New York Film Academy were inspiring to see as directors not much older than me were experimenting with creative storytelling.

One of the most inspiring works I saw at the festival was the short “Laundry Day.” This piece was directed by Michael Stevantoni, an 18-year-old high school student.

This particular work showed off the director’s talent for capturing some of life’s many problems through a unique, quirky film. The music stuck out to me as it balanced how the movie drifted from heavy subject to the next with a light, catchy tune.

There was a great change of pace at the end of Monday night’s films with the showing of the science fiction short “Recoil.” While the plot was a bit convoluted — which is expected in anything featuring black holes and time travel — the graphics and set design were out of this world.

Taking a page out of Joss Whedon’s TV show, “Firefly,” brought this movie a space Western feel with its rogue protagonist, Marshall, and his fight to save his brother. This was one exciting flick that left me appreciating the film’s complete design.

A showstopper featuring a drag burlesque show, some Celine Dion and white chocolate was also shown in Monday’s “Cherry Pop.” This short was one of the funniest films at the festival and brought so much personality to the screen. “Cherry Pop” was my favorite fiction film of the night because it’s like nothing I’ve seen before. The movie is a very genuine and charming take on people who are transgender.

The documentaries shown at Reality Bytes were full of heart and left me wanting to know more about the fascinating lives of the people featured. “Methel Island,” “Suicide Disease” and “Wheelchair Diaries: One Step Up” offered a rare look at worlds we don’t often see in film.

“The Suicide Disease” stood out among the rest of the documentaries as I could almost feel the pain the film’s subject, Frances Shavers, goes through as she suffers from trigeminal neuralgia, which causes stabbing pain in the neck. The strength she shows through the film is extraordinary and inspiring.

Tuesday night was highlighted by the film “Yabanci,” or “The Foreigner,” directed by New York University student Mo Faramawy. Seeing Istanbul through the eyes of an outsider provided a glimpse of the beautiful city. Despite all of the cultural differences, the film showed the complexities of love and friendship remain the same.