Studio Blue’s annual film festival CineNoma celebrates local filmmakers

From lecture hall to red-carpet theatre, Ives 101 transformed and mingled the filmmakers and stars of Sonoma State Thursday night to house Studio Blue’s annual film festival, CineNoma.  Dressed up in silver and gold balloons and stars, the hall engaged undergrads, grads, faculty and locals of the community to witness nine, two-to-six-minute student films in the main and experimental genres: comedy, suspense, POV and social commentary.

“I was hoping this would be the best CineNoma yet, and I think it was. It went super smoothly and it was [all around] a great night,” said Studio Blue general manager Sam Houser. 

Assisting in the previous two film festivals, Houser spoke about the things he’s seen go wrong in the past two years and tried to do everything in his power avoid them.

“I’m beyond excited to have students be able to come here and showcase their work,” said Houser.

The festival’s premiere screening was “With Eyes Closed.” Directed by Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) student Miles Leven, the film embraced the ideology of being able to see and experience more by inhibiting your sight. It won the award for Best Cinematography. Although not in attendance, Leven was given an extended round of applause.

“Prequel,” directed by SSU graduate Mary-Madison Baldo and senior Bria Gabor, glimpsed the preparation stages for girls victimized by human trafficking.  Gabor played the experienced victim who informed a fresh girl about the numbing pain you learn to suppress.

“This [project] is a revisit of a film I made junior year,” said Gabor. “I’ve learned a lot about human trafficking since then and I hear about it more in the news, a lot more.” 

This role earned Gabor Best Actress for her extended work. 

“Charlie and the Narrator’s” Elijah Pinkman, directed by SRJC student Devin Lehrer, earned the award for Best Actor for the comedic piece. The film told the story of a boy who lived an extremely routined life, while being narrated by an English accent. 

Also not in attendance, his award was accepted by director Lehrer on his behalf. Lehrer spoke about how his film “raises awareness for filmmaking,” for the last half of the film exposed the difficulties crews and directors go through when an actor or actress disagrees with the instruction or storyline. 

The final award for Best Film was given to Levin’s suspenseful short, “Little Soldiers.” The film reminded us of the fun we’d have as kids, playing games like cops and robbers outside, running around and being carefree. Joy turned to apprehension when one of the boys discovered a body in the nearby creek.

Ending on a light note, as kids, the game always went on. Levin received another round of applause for this award. 

“I would say this year’s CineNoma exceeded my expectations. I was really impressed by the overall quality the films showed tonight,” said communications professor and Studio Blue advisor Ed Beebout. “[All] interesting films with a great variety of subjects.”

Concessions and anticipation for post-fest photos kept the crowd cheery through the remaining five films. “SF Women’s March”, directed by sophomore Natalie Koenig, gave you a protester’s viewpoint of the human rights marches that occurred on Jan. 21 of this year in San Francisco.

“I think everyone had an awesome time,” said Houser, who had many round of applauses that night in gratitude for his year-round work. 

Returning every spring, CineNoma will be back before we know it, crafting new filmmakers and ideas one plotline at a time.