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WATIF to host its first film festival

Emma Hurst in a still from the short film “Cleo”, which was submitted to the festival.

A new film festival is rolling into Ogden on April 6, and this one is solely created by Weber State University students.

Weber’s Advisory Team for Innovative Film Production will be hosting its first-ever WATIF International Film Festival at the Ziegfeld Theater at 3934 S Washington Blvd. in Ogden.

There are two components of WATIF: a student board and a practicum course that students can register and receive three upper division credits for.

From this student board, WATIF co-presidents Zander Cooper and Paige Aardema have worked to create this festival for about a year.

“The film studies program at Weber is pretty new,” Aardema said. “It’s been around for only a handful of years. And so we really wanted to get our staple at Weber State and we thought the best way would be a film festival.”

March 25 was the submission deadline for the festival, which accepted films not only from Weber State students but from around the world.

Cooper said films from Germany, England and France were submitted to the festival, as well as films from across the U.S.

They’ve received over 20 short films, and the WATIF student board met to adjudicate and decide which films will be shown at the festival.

A big goal for the festival was to make it affordable and accessible for up-and-coming filmmakers.

Cooper said he’s participated in film festivals before that have steep entry fees on top of expensive festival tickets.

Submission fees were $5, and tickets to the festival are $5 as well. Cooper said all of these funds will go back into WATIF to help students pay for equipment, props or whatever else is needed for their short films.

Ash Soltani Stone, the advisor for WATIF, said that unlike other practicum courses, the WATIF class does not have one centralized project. Instead, it is made up of a few different groups of student filmmakers working on multiple projects. The funding received will support these works.

“We put a big emphasis on wanting to make the films that other students want to make,” Cooper said. “Any student from any major can come and essentially pitch a film idea to us.”

One film in the festival coming from a Weber student is “Misery Loves Company,” from writer and director Dusty Bessire. Describing the short film as zany and emotional, Bessire said this film is inspired by the idea that if a person numbs pain, they won’t experience joy.

“I really can’t stress enough the importance that this is a great opportunity to start building a community for student filmmakers,” Bessire said. “We hope folks will come support it.”

WATIF posted on Instagram doors to the festival will open on April 6 at 6 p.m., and films will start screening around 6:45 p.m. Their Instagram bio includes a link to buy tickets to the festival.

The festival will be divided into two halves, with family friendly shorts and R-rated shorts being split by an intermission.

Cooper, who will graduate this spring, wanted to lay as much groundwork for this festival as possible so that it will likely continue next year. Aardema will be taking over in the fall as president, and she hopes to have another successful year.

“We’ve really put our heart and soul into this,” Aardema said. “One thing that you’ll learn about the film studies degree is that there is no lack of passion throughout the entire program. Everybody I’ve met, everybody I talk to in the film program is beyond passionate and is just so ready to show their art and to make incredible films and incredible stories.”

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Megan Swann
Megan Swann, Culture Editor

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