May 2, 2008

Dutchess Community College: The 33rd Student Audio-Video Festival, Spring 2008 - Part I

Way back in the early/mid-1990's I was a student at Dutchess Community College in New York. It was also known as Harvard on the Hudson and Pendell University. It was a place I spent three years of my life at, going to school, learning, living, searching. It was here that my love for music and movies began to truly take hold. I graduated with an A.S. in the Communication and Media Arts program.

One of the advantages of being in this program was the possibility of having a piece (or pieces) included in the end of semester show. I had the honor on a couple of occasions, although my work was never all that good. Anyway, knowing one of the directors taking part in this year's show, I was let in on the secret day and time when the pieces were to be unveiled. Off I went to make an appearance and bear witness to the plethora of shorts on display, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The evening began with an introduction from the department's head, Camilo Rojas, the very same man who headed the department when I was there. While I never had him as a teacher, being in the program guaranteed you some level of interaction. He is a passionate man who always expects the best from his students. Well, his diminutive frame, complete with bushy grey beard, stood front and center with no need for a microphone. His heavily accented voice welcomed us to the show, informing us we would be seeing the good and the not so good of the semester just past. He also went on to rail against the establishment about administration expectations and his hopes and wishes for his students. It sounded impassioned and angry, with reason, as I came to learn that he is being replaced as department head, making this the last show with him to guide us. It is a shame too, as he only wants the students to be the best they can be.

The show began at roughly 8:00, and ran north of two hours. This is where I run into problems. That is, with so many pieces shown, my memory wears thin trying to recall all that saw. I have the program containing all of the film titles, which helps. I will run down the listing, with notes concerning the films that I remember.

Com 280:

Paris: 3 Days, 4 Nights, Fifteen Eyes. This experimental documentary had some nice work in it. It chronicles a class trip to Paris through location and music. It opens with the camera following those involved on their way to the plane, the journey, the time in the terminal, all set to a street musician playing a Led Zeppelin song. The middle segment has them touring Paris, set to the music of street jazz musicians, whose music leads all the way back to their return to New York. I liked it, although the pacing was a tad slow. The music recording was excellent.

Com 262 & 263: Learning in Progress:

Broken Records: Hustlin' the Music Industry. This takes a brief look at the changing music industry, how the days of being signed are dead/dying and that a new business model is forming with more musicians promoting themselves and selling across the internet. The subject is definitely filled with plenty of potential for a full-length piece.

Caught in the Web. Is web addiction something to be worried about? At one point it is compared to heroin addiction. The topic is one that can definitely hold interest, however, I did not get the feeling that the filmmakers had thought through what they wanted to say with it.

1440 to Live Documentary Trailer. We would see the trailer later, this took a look inside the zombie film and the creation of the elaborate zombie makeup. The effects were very impressive.

Timber Theft. Have you ever thought about stealing a tree? No? Well, those interviewed here have, and they have been victimized by the practice. This is something that not only affects people monetarily (although, it is substantial), but also the environment. You know, it takes a long time to grow a tree back. This was put together well, although I must admit to not being terribly captured by the material.

Fulton Ave. Trailer. Here is one that brought back memories. It was a trailer for a proposed documentary of Kendall Francois, a convicted serial killer who killed eight women in the Poughkeepsie, NY, area in the mid-90's. I knew the man, playing cards with him in the cafeteria of DCC over a two year span, as we were students at the same time and had some common friends. I would have liked to have seen more of their footage.

O.C. Today. Ever wanted to take a look at the changing drug culture? In some areas it is shifting from the traditional cocaine and heroin to the world of prescribed drugs, such as Oxycontin. This features interviews with some people who use and with the dealers, talking about how much money is to be had. This was nicely done.

Either In or On My Way. This, I believe I have the right one, is an extended interview with a former student who is working in the industry. He talks about his poor high school grades and how he latched onto the Communications program and found he was good at it. This turns into a lot of talking of how good Camilo is, in addition to the standard "need to work well with others" type of advice. Sure, it was interesting, but it was overly long and a bit repetitive.

Com 250: (Due to some technical difficulties, many of the videos from this section were seen at the end of the show.)

Ya Ya. This was a nicely recorded performance of the female music collective Ya Ya. They perform cultural music from African, Puerto Rican, and Dominican backgrounds. It was a very good performance, nicely shot and edited.

The R.P.M. Collage. If I recall correctly, this was a collection of sound recordings.

Heaven. Hopefully I haven't confused this with another title. This is about a woman wandering around a forest until a man falls from the sky. The two talk, with the woman saying that her Father had created all around them and must have sent him for a reason. He was sent for a reason all right;, he attacks her, rapes her, and reveals himself to be Lucifer and this is his final "gift" for God. This was actually rather disturbing.

The Mid-Hudson Children's Museum. This is a documentary on the local museum, whose contents and programs are all geared towards children. It is a great place for educational fun.

50 Years of Caring. DCC has a well regarded nursing program; this takes a look inside that program and what it takes to be a good nurse. This is a nice look into a profession that deserves to be recognized.

Sounds of Business. Another title that escapes me.

Hyde Park Train Station. This piece was rather dry and lifeless as it looks at the historical location that has changed hands and purposes many times over its decades of existence.

The Common Fire Cooperative. Essentially a promo for becoming a firefighter and the dedication exhibited by all those involved. It was well done and did not bore.

The Folk Art Program. Another dry piece about a woman who studies folk art and tells of the places where it can be found.

The Faith Christian Academy. A local school whose students seem to genuinely enjoy attending, as they are encouraged to excel at their academics as well as develop as good human beings.

The Roof is on Fire. Not sure what this one was.

All's Well That Ends Well. This one either. Man, there was so much to absorb, it is impossible to retain everything.

1440 to Live Trailer. Here is the full trailer for the horror film we had the documentary trailer for earlier. I would very much like to see a finished film. Zombies are always fun, and the makeup effects were really quite good.

Such a Silly Boy. Hopefully I have this title right. A young man is walking along the street, goes back to his car, gets his iPod, and starts dancing along the street. It is so infectious that everyone he passes joins in the fun. This is nicely executed and well choreographed short.

To be continued...


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