Slice of Life

SU film fraternity organizes festival to connect student filmmakers

Courtesy of Anastacia Puertas and Mark Janowski

A still from the film “Melted.” The film’s crew started working on production during fall 2019 semester and finished editing it in fall 2020 semester.

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Anastacia Puertas spent a full year creating her experimental film “Melted.” Shot during fall 2019, the movie wasn’t fully edited until the end of the fall 2020 semester. It was also one of the last movies she worked on before the pandemic.

“It really took a year to fully come together just because it was my last thing that I had pre-pandemic, and I wanted to make sure it was kind of perfect,” Puertas said.

Puertas, a junior film major, submitted “Melted” to the Salt City International Film Festival. The Syracuse University chapter of Delta Kappa Alpha, a gender-inclusive professional cinematic fraternity, is sponsoring the festival, which will run virtually from Friday through Sunday. About 80 films were submitted for the festival.

The film festival will feature guest speakers, a networking event and screenings of the films selected for each of the four categories: experimental, animation, documentary and narrative. Guests can RSVP to individual events online.

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SU seniors Samantha Slaughter and Melina Psarros, the co-directors and co-founders of the film festival, are both DKA members and started organizing the event during winter break.

Slaughter and Psarros opened the festival to college students across the world — and received submissions from India and Korea — as a way to network with other film students and amplify the exposure of international films.

“In my education, I unfortunately have not received that much exposure to international film,” Psarros said. “It’s something that you have to seek out yourself, which I hope changes in the future.”

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Justin Schwebel, an SU alumnus who studied television, radio and film, is presenting a talk on Saturday about working as a production assistant during COVID-19. Schwebel plans to speak about his experiences and the industry’s resilience during the pandemic.

“You have such complicated logistics to begin with when you’re making a movie, and in COVID-19, that logistical challenge is amplified tenfold,” Schwebel said. “So I hope that people can appreciate that during COVID, it makes a job that’s already hard even harder, but also more interesting.”

Also scheduled for Saturday is a networking event hosted with CAVA Collective, an organization where young creatives connect with others. CAVA’s meet-ups are all designed with the intention of being a welcoming, judgement-free space for people to share ideas and engage with one another.

For Psarros, hosting the film festival has been a way to get out of the “stuck” feeling of being creative during the pandemic, she said.

“COVID really has forced a lot of creative people to feel stuck,” Psarros said. “That’s what attracted a lot of people to submit, and we tried to make it as accessible as possible.”







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