International Short Film Festival Discusses Identity


Located in Lawrence Hall, this center for language is host to the four-part International Short Film Festival. 

Gaby Bianchi, Maroon-News Staff

January 28 marked the first installment of a four-part International Short Film Festival hosted by Colgate’s language interns. Ten short films revolving around the theme of identity were screened. The films, hand picked by the interns, showcased unique snapshots of cultures outside of the United States. The shorts emphasized internal and external conflicts, specifically through discovering a balance between cultural and personal identity. 

The films represent; Mexico, Iran, Russia, Italy, Japan, Germany, China and France. For language students, or prospective language students, the experience of watching a short film in the respective language serves as a valuable learning experience. 

“Identity is all about experiences. They shape us and our surroundings and the more we experience, the more possibilities we discover for us and what we want. The International Short Film Festival offers you the chance to get to know new, surprising and inspiring perspectives as it gathers various unique experiences from different cultures about essential topics of our lives,” said German language intern Michelle Michaux. 

The festival broadened the sense of what a short film consists of, shifting away from typical Hollywood formalities and bringing a taste of the outside world into the Colgate “bubble.” Colgate, although scattered with pockets of diversity, is heavily populated by white Americans. It is events like these that delve deeper into understanding a more holistic version of the world in all its diversity. It is by this exposure that students can challenge themselves to think outside of their own personal here and now. Furthermore, this film series offers a great experience for international students and those in touch with their heritage to connect with students of similar backgrounds, strengthening the common ground between students and cultures. 

The films, ranging from three minutes to 15 minutes long, were excellently paced, creating a sense of rhythm and interconnectedness between the countries displayed. The films were played in their respective languages of origin with accompanying English subtitles. The authenticity of hearing the native tongue celebrated diversity, while reminding the audience that nationality and differences should not confine or limit our understanding of the world. The common themes spiraling throughout the films exposed the core of humanity as well as the desire for equality and love traversing through cultures. Although this focus was expressed in different ways throughout the films, some through political hardship while others through romantic relationships, the common theme of identity was never forgotten.

“The claim for this event could be speed dating ideas from around the world,”

Italian language intern Achille Zambon said in his description for the event.  

The audience was clearly receptive to the quick pace and continuously changing cultural narratives. Gasps of horror often escaped the mouths of captivated viewers moments before another film began.  

“I really liked the Japanese movie because it was really funny and it incorporated a lot of Japanese anime elements with its comical sound effects and vibrant colors. Even though I’ve never really watched a lot of Japanese anime, this short film really interested me and I would watch more films like this,” first-year Jessie Wang said. 

This whirlwind of diversity culminated in the serving of Russian and Italian food. The festival will continue next with the exploration of the theme of memory on February 25 with food from France and China, the theme of spirituality on March 24 with food from Japan and Germany and the theme of conflict, with food from Spain and the Middle East. The events are located in Lawrence 20 at 5 p.m.