Student film festival at NIU in DeKalb April 10-12

Wilfredo Hernandez

Staff Report

DEKALB, Ill. — The Northern Illinois University (NIU) Department of Communication is preparing to raise the curtain on its popular Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival at the Jameson Auditorium, inside the university’s newly renovated Cole Hall.

Free and open to the public, the 11th annual festival will feature student-film screenings from 9 to 11 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, April 10-11.

Wilfredo Hernandez, an NIU alum and renowned reality TV editor, will be the special guest speaker from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, April 12, the final night of the festival.

Hernandez’s credits include Supernanny (ABC), Big Brother 11-12 (CBS) and the critically acclaimed weekly documentary Beyond the Glory (Fox Sports).

Audience members will have the opportunity to learn more about his success story during his presentation, titled “Reality Television as a Profession.” Hernandez also will discuss his current project, Q’Viva! (Fox), featuring Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.

The winning films will be announced the final evening as well.

The film festival was established in 2001 by Laura Vazquez, professor of media production and theory. She serves as director of the festival, created to give film students the opportunity to competitively screen their work.

“MIJO” (“My Son”) is an intensely personal documentary about the relationship between a young mother who is a professional dancer and her 6-year-old son, as she undergoes treatment for breast cancer. The film is a delicate balance between the son’s innocence and the mother’s attempts to communicate her battle. Ultimately, the film is an affirmation of love and the purpose of life. (Photo provided)

Seeing the number of submissions increase over the years, and seeing the amount of interest rise, as well as the work put into making these films, I am thrilled to say independent film making is thriving,” Vazquez said. “We are particularly excited about the new category of high school submissions.”

Thanks to the online film submission system Withoutabox, employed three years ago to streamline the film submission and review process, the film festival has received more than 90 submissions from high school, undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States and around the world.

Of the 90-plus submissions, 15 short student films have been chosen to be screened at this year’s festival, including nine short documentaries and seven short fiction films.

The selected films vary in genre from comedy to drama to animation, and focus specifically on strong storytelling. Each film category will also include a “Best in Show” award. There also will be a “Best in Show” award for the high school film category.

More information about the festival is available via Twitter and Facebook (join the Festival Event) or by contacting Jennifer Shelton, lead logistics coordinator, at

From the April 4-10, 2012, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!