On Wednesday, May 3, teachers Amanda Marini and Philip Halpern stepped out onto the Little Theater’s stage to introduce Berkeley High School’s first ever Beyond the Cut Film Festival.
The films shown were produced by students over the course of this year, in classes like Art of Video Production, Advanced Studio Editing, and both years of Berkeley International High School (BIHS) Film. After each of the festival’s two acts, BHS filmmakers walked on stage to take credit for their artistry.
The event went into the night, showcasing two hours worth of student films with a five minute intermission in between.
The screening was opened with “No Solicitors,” a film by BHS senior Maya Drooker, about a supposed neighborhood surveyor making himself at home in someone else’s house. This quirky comedy garnered multitudinous laughs from the audience due to its fast-paced editing and lovable characters.
Subsequent films at the festival matched the comedic energy of “No Solicitors,” but the festival’s lineup contained videos from all genres, production styles, and tones.
One notable example is “Trilogy: I, This Winged Creature,” a film collection directed and written by Zora Laddish. It follows a winged, supernatural creature who struggles with social and self-acceptance. Drawing the script and inspiration from an original poem, Laddish was able to highlight his own creativity in a collection of three films. The film poem assignment from Advanced Studio Editing served as the catalyst for this work.
Laddish’s trilogy was followed by Otto Harris’s “Untitled,” an intense chase sequence resulting from cupcake theft. Though the thief got away with their shenanigans at the end of this black and white short film, the audience members didn’t mind due to the film’s extremely smooth storytelling and editing style.
Various assignments from the different film classes worked to make the event feel cohesive.
The festival was filled to the brim with chase sequences, cloning, stabbing and poems brought to life, with each filmmaker bringing their own unique style and perspective onto the screen.
Another remarkable film from the festival was Anna Eisen’s “Look the Other Way.” The film follows two girls: one dancing in her room to the Bee Gees’ song, “Stayin Alive” and the other running away from zombies. Cutting back and forth between the two made for excellent juxtaposition, with the first girl obliviously grooving to “Stayin Alive” as the other character writes “help me” on her window with her own blood, in all caps.
The film festival concluded with “The Plan” by Jonah Pagenhart. The film followed the story of three characters, all played by Pagenhart. It told the story of a serial killer inviting a victim over for dinner to enact his wicked plan. Mistakes were made, and they forced the killer to purchase from his local poison dealer and cycle through innumerable murderous plans and backup plans. Pagenhart’s performance as numerous characters was admirable, displaying the wide range of skill possessed by many BHS filmmakers.
Berkeley High School’s Beyond the Cut Film Festival was a blast to attend, leaving many audience members both impressed and inspired.