Films focus on dentists, power plants and women’s health

From an oddball dentist particularly fond of molars to a photographic journey outside the gates of a smoking power plant, student directors on campus have something to say. The fourth annual UVM Film Festival brought fans of 12 young student directors together at Billings Lecture Hall on April 16.   Film Club President Doug White and club member Zach Despart led the viewing whilst an enthusiastic teacher panel, including film and TV professor Ted Lyman, sat in the audience.  Some entries brought laughter, confusion and grins to the many faces in attendance; others were more lackluster. Here are the hilarious, the inventive and the forgettable.   “Cheek Teeth” Winner and senior Holly Copeland stole the show with a short film about a dentist who breaks his pearly white perfect mold.  After stating, “The molars are always at the back of the fucking bus,” he implants a molar in the front gap of an innocent schoolgirl, who is delighted by the idea of having “special teeth.”  Shot in black and white, the dentist’s monologues are brilliant for a plot so odd.     “Dinner Date” This film by Zach Despart earned the title for Best Sound.  Just trying to cook dinner for a date, the lead is bombarded by inconsiderate roommates who pester him and steal his food. When he finds out his lady friend is, in fact, waiting for him at a restaurant — the result of miscommunication with his roommate — someone gets stuck out in the cold … and clothes-less.  Though the plot was humorous, it neglected the opportunity to creatively move away from typical college life.   “Fight for Planned Parenthood” Bobby Bruderle’s film was released on YouTube at the height of the Republican Party’s proposed budget cut to defund reproductive rights and women’s health organization Planned Parenthood.  As the film proceeds, UVM female activists use pink war paint to show their tribal ties as women with the strength to fight.  A needle gradually approaches a pink balloon with Kanye West chant-rapping in the background.  Though it did not win an award, this short film packs a powerful punch to objectors of Planned Parenthood and women’s rights.   “A Response to Broken Hearts” Although Meg Benedict’s film was relatable for all those young adults gaining insight on the painstaking mess that is love, the plot failed to capture my attention.  The shots of snowy Vermont landscapes, horses and couches provided an original setting.  This masked an oppressive reliance on background music, the musicians of Coldplay structuring the somber mood more so than the photography or acting.   “Powerplant” J.D. Martz’s film was unconventional, bringing breathtaking late-night shots of a power plant to the screen.  Smoke billowing from the stacks twirled against a deepening blue sky, layered over with dark tree limbs from the setting sun. Before the audience’s eyes, this desolate place of pollution transformed into a man-made muse. This was the first entry to cleverly employ mirror-like manipulations in the photography, creating a visceral story through images, not through overwhelming music or the prison-house of language.