New York Tech’s annual Animation and Film Festival, celebrating the creativity of students from the departments of Communication Arts and Digital Art and Design, was held on May 22. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, filmmakers, animators, and the rest of the New York Tech community was invited to stream the student submissions beginning at 5 p.m. and then attend a virtual awards ceremony at 7 p.m.
The festival, curated by Anila Jaho, visiting assistant professor of digital art and design, and Paul Demonte, M.A., adjunct professor of communication arts, featured over 60 animations, motion graphic pieces, films, and documentary shorts with awards given out in six categories.
The COVID pandemic presented a number of the filmmakers with some unusual challenges. Brendan Smoller, who won the award for Best Fiction/Narrative, admits his film, Relativity: A Zoom Movie, was “born out of desperation.” After deciding to film his entire project on Zoom when on-site field production proved impossible, he then had to find a creative solution for some other unexpected issues. “The idea that the entire conversation would be of clones came from the fact that I was the only person in our production group who was comfortable in front of the camera.”
“It's always cool seeing what the next generation of filmmakers is coming up with,” said Lee Milby, an indie film and music video director who was one of the judges. “It's the young people who have their pulse on trends and new technologies the most, so seeing their ideas and innovations is a great insight into the future of the industry.”
The judges were impressed with the caliber of films, suggesting that some, like Best New York Tech Animation winner Overgrown by Gabriel Intrieri, were “ready to pitched to television or a film festival.”
There was even a rare tie in the Best Animation Style category, Paraliezed by Adam Marano, which was praised for its “strong graphic style” and Rain by Qingzhi Chen, which was honored for its “high art feel, combining stark animation with technicolor visuals.”
Despite the virtual ceremony, the winners were surprised and thrilled by their success. “I’ve never won something like this so it was definitely a new, intense feeling of adrenaline and joy,” added Best Non-Fiction/Documentary winner Craig Carass. “The next day I couldn’t wait to start my next project.”
View this year’s ceremony and winning films, as well as all the submitted projects at nyit.edu/aaff.
- Best Fiction/Narrative: Brendan Smoller—Relativity: A Zoom Movie
- Best Non-Fiction/Documentary: Craig Carass—The Interview
- Best of Communication Arts: Ethan Diaz—A Taste of New York
- Best Animation Storytelling: John Bekios—Flowers for the Rain
- Best Animation Style: (tie) Adam Marano—Paraliezed and Qingzhi Chen—Rain
- Best New York Tech Animation: Gabriel Intrieri—Overgrown
Congratulation to the winners and everyone who submitted their work.
By Ron Goldberg