Sonoma County Student Film Festival: A socially distanced showcase of student talent


Photo by Edgar Soria Garcia

Following recent shelter-in-place orders in response to COVID-19, the Sonoma County Student Film Festival moved to Zoom videoconference where audience participate from the safety of their homes.

Edgar Soria Garcia and Nick Vides

The show went on for the annual Sonoma County Student Film Festival, which presented student-made productions virtually, at 7 p.m April 3 via a Zoom videoconference.

Despite Santa Rosa Junior College cancelling in-person events through May 23 due to current COVID-19 shelter-in-place regulations, the festival continued online to shine a light on student creativity.

“We are proud to put this event on, despite the circumstances all of us are under,” said Meea McMath, film festival director.

The festival’s moderators compiled the 15 films into a YouTube playlist for audiences to watch at their leisure. The playlist includes: 

– “Milk” by Zack Case.

– “Trail to Nowhere” by Heather Murray and Rebecca Bell.

– “Dirt” Payton Cords.

– “Cafe” Elina Ulumbekova.

– “Why Seagoers Hate the Color Purple” by Kaden Anderson.

– “Burial” by Morgan Hamilton-Lee.

– “FIVES” by Sophie Martinez.

– “White Lies” by Zach Tracy.

– “My Medicine Living with Wegener’s Disease” by Sean Restivo.

– “The Artifact” by Elias Torres

– “Wake Up” by Kelvyn Ortiz Cuevas

– “Hometown” by Logan Thompson

– “Not Perfection” by Nicole Veum

– “Amber” by Andrew Wynkoop

– “Art of Musical Production” by Zach Case

“We did not want to push this important event back. We decided to go virtual so students could get their films seen,” said Brian Antonson, Santa Rosa Junior College communication studies instructor who teaches film production courses.

After screening the films from the comfort of their own homes, audience members could log in to Zoom to hear a presentation from each filmmaker, followed by a Q&A portion.

“I was happy to see the filmmakers participate in the Q&A. Having their input and participation has always been an integral part of the festival,” said Kaila Bohler, former Sonoma County Student Film Festival director.

After the showing, Antonson and McMath announced the winners of three awards.  

The Audience Award was given to Renaud Ducom for his film “White Lies.” The Programmer’s Award went to Rebecca Bell and Heather Murray for “Trail to Nowhere,” and Zach Case won the Screening Committee Award for his films “Milk” and “The Art of Musical Production.” 

Heather Murray’s “Trail to Nowhere” highlighted the lives of the homeless community formerly living on the Joe Rodota trail.

“What an honor! It means so much to me and Rebecca that our work was noticed in that way, especially because the content has become so important to us,” Murray said. “I can’t express enough my gratitude for the education and experience available to SRJC students. I feel like that sounds like a paid endorsement, but quite the opposite — I paid and am endorsing the program!”

The winning films will move on to Film Fest Petaluma, a local international film festival which is postponed until September.