In the presentation hall of Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media building, students gathered to watch each other’s works from the previous semesters and share their art with their peers.
Hosted by three sophomores: filmmaking majors Peter Di Prospero and Josh Carmona, as well as film and television major Colin Luderitz, the second Silver Slate Film Festival was held on Friday, Feb. 10.
What makes this film festival different than the others is the sense of community. Here, there is no competition – only support and admiration for one another.
With a great turnout for the entire five hours, the audience laughed and cheered during the duration of the festival. There was a lot of energy and support from the audience and never a dull moment. In addition to viewing their works, the audience even got exclusive Q&A sessions with the filmmakers themselves.
The films varied in genres, such as coming-of-age with “Teens” directed by Natalie Brangaccio, silent films like “Divorce, But Awesome!” directed by Alex Greaney and even horror such as “The Living Reanimator” directed by part-time sophomore filmmaking major Jacob Kelly.
One of the audience members, sophomore film and television major Scott Ackerson, shared his thoughts on the event.
“[The festival is] one of the events I look forward to most on campus,” Ackerson said. “I’m so thankful for [Di Prospero, Luderitz and Carmona] for bringing us all together as a community to see these incredible films together.”
Ackerson continued to express his opinions about the films themselves.
“I personally loved ‘On Fire’ quite a bit,” Ackerson said. “It felt very cinematic comparatively. I’m also a sucker for goofy comedy so ‘FML FLATZ’, ‘Groovy Rudy’ and ‘Gustav Spicy’ were all winners to me.”
Not only is the Silver Slate Film Festival a fun event for filmmakers and viewers to gather for the day, but it’s also very important for the filmmakers to show off their hard work.
Junior filmmaking major Kole Boyd wrote and directed the film “The Great American Screenplay,” which was shown first at the festival.
Boyd gave some insight into what the festival means to him.
“The Silver Slate Film [Festival] is an opportunity for young filmmakers to showcase the very best of their work,” Boyd said. “From the spark of inspiration that initiates the filmmaking process to seeing it come to life on the big screen, I think the [festival] is a great way for filmmakers to chronicle work they can feel proud of.”
Sophomore filmmaking major Sophie Jackson showcased her film “Orange Peels,” a coming-of-age teen short film based on a girl and her best friend getting ready for her mother’s wedding.
“Being able to screen your films as a film student is so important,” Jackson said. “You get real audience reactions, and I think that’s so important as a filmmaker because it helps you grow and see how your art affects others.”
Every film shown at the festival was spectacular and really shows how great the film program at Montclair State is. However, there was one in particular that seemed like a fan favorite.
Sophomore filmmaking major Paige Guski’s short film “FML Flatz” made the audience erupt with laughter every few seconds.
Guski’s pairing of comedic actors, junior communication and media studies major Nick Najarian and sophomore environmental science major Ben Bratter, who was in many of the films shown, is what really tied this film together.
What is a spoof of “MTV Cribs,” Guski’s film follows the host, played by Najarian, and his venture through Rodney’s home, played by Bratter, which progressively gets weirder and weirder.
Bratter’s character playing with toy cars and his delivery of “Uh oh, fender bender” incited gut-wrenching laughter.
Najarian, who hosted the first Silver Slate Film Festival in Sept. 2022, was featured as an actor in two films showcased. One of the last films shown, “Grease Monkey” was directed by host Carmona and starred Najarian and sophomore theatre studies major Lucy Sturm.
As someone who is passionate about the art of film and an actor in many student-led projects, Najarian is thankful to have the Silver Slate Film Festival.
“It’s great exposure,” Najarian said. “I think it’s a very exciting way for students to show off and get some sort of closure for all the hard work they’ve done for an entire semester. I think it’s a great way for students to celebrate why we do this and why we love what we do.”
The Silver Slate Film Festival was only created in 2022, and it was unsure if it would continue on and cement itself as an annual event. However, the audience turnout, amount of content shown, charismatic hosts and overall professional setup ensures we will likely see the tradition continue for years to come.