Grand Rapids Film Festival to show film by Calvin students

Photo courtesy Reid Petro
Photo courtesy Reid Petro

The Grand Rapids Film Festival is taking over downtown Grand Rapids from Thursday, April 10 to Sunday, April 13. One of the short films in the festival, “Moo: A Documentary” was created by five Calvin students.

The festival will see 46 feature-length films, documentaries, animated short films and short narratives screened all over the city. It will also feature panels on filmmaking, a four-day-long production workshop and even a fashion show by a professional costume designer.

“There’s something for everybody,” says Nicholas DiCarlo, public relations intern for the Festival. “Anything that you’re interested in — screenwriting, watching films, editing, fashion — there’s everything going on this week.”

Events at the festival are matched to different venues, with family-friendly and animated films showing at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and edgier films playing at the Pyramid Scheme.

The Kendall College Woodbridge Building on Pearl Street will serve as the education center of the Festival, where the documentary screenings and informational panels will take place. Anyone can come to one of the panels to learn about the filmmaking process, from sound design to raising money to making a living in the industry.

“You can make a whole day of it,” says DiCarlo about the variety of events available at the festival. “You can go to one place, like the public museum, watch the family-friendly animation films there in the morning, and then you can go over to the WMCAT and watch a completely different genre of films.”

DiCarlo noted the emphasis on community as a distinguishing feature of the Grand Rapids Film Festival.

“We’re just trying to get the community exposed to film and have as many opportunities as possible for them to see what it’s about and fuel their passion for it. We really try to have as many events as possible that are free or the film blocks that are $5. It’s affordable so everybody can be immersed in it.”

One series of short films at the Grand Rapids Public Museum will include “Moo: A Documentary.” “Moo” was created by Calvin film students Lucas da Silva, Reid Petro, Daniel VandeBunte, Colton Credelle and Victor Perez, for their final project in CAS 290.

The eight-minute-long documentary tells the story of Moo-ville, a family dairy farm owned by the Westendorps of Nashville, Mich. The film explores the role a small family farm can have today, and the importance of technology in keeping the business going.

Da Silva, who directed “Moo,” says that he and his team were impressed by Moo-ville and wanted to show how this farm was different. “They’re a really good Christian business,” he says. “They treat their cows really well.”

The film also shows the entire process that the Westendorps use to make and sell their own ice cream. “They put all this work into it, so it’s meaningful,” da Silva says. “They love working with their family.” He added that it was good to see a small business doing things their own way and succeeding.

Da Silva’s hope is that audiences will be able to take something away after watching “Moo.”

“I hope that viewers will be more conscious about where they buy their food from and try to support family farms — even go visit Moo-ville,” he said.

Last year, “Moo: A Documentary” won a Bronze Telly — a national award for films. Da Silva credits the strong collaboration with Petro, VandeBunte, Credelle and Perez for their film’s success.

“One of the things I think really made this film work is the teamwork,” he said. “All of the guys had really good experience and a passion for filmmaking. We all brought our strengths together to make this film.”

After finishing “Moo” last year, the student team received a small budget to submit the piece to film festivals.  Because each festival has an entry fee, Da Silva says, “We had to pick wisely — pick film festivals that are reputable and had a passion for the type of film we were making.”

“Moo” will be playing at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 12, at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Tickets cost $5, which includes admission to the museum.

More information on the schedule, film lineup and events taking place at the Grand Rapids Film Festival can be found at www.grfilmfestival.com.

About the Author

Laura Sheppard

Laura Sheppard is the Chimes campus news co-editor for 2014-2015. She is a senior from Vassar, Michigan, and studying writing and studio art. Her hobbies include singing, running, telling bad jokes, and eating cheese. She also loves travel and adventure, and her spirit animal is a cat.

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