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From the classroom to the community

TCC student films to be shown at Circle Cinema

Ben Arredondo and students at the 2017 TCC Best of Short Shorts screening

Matthew Edwards, part-time film professor at Tulsa Community College, is in the process of creating a 30–40-minute-long “best of” reel, a selection of short films produced during his Filmmaking I and II classes this spring semester. It’s the second year Edwards has partnered with Ben Arredondo, founder and executive director of the Tulsa American Film Festival (TAFF), to host The TCC Best of Short Shorts, which will screen for free at Circle Cinema on Thursday, May 10, at 6 p.m.

Edwards has screened his students’ films on campus for over a decade, but he wanted to provide them with a wider audience and with opportunities they might not encounter otherwise.

“It’s important to me,” Edwards said, “that Tulsa Community College is recognized as a brand producing student filmmakers and that we’re doing things that are creatively significant in the Oklahoma community.”

Arredondo turned out to be the perfect person to assist Edwards and his students. After presenting the student films this year, Arredondo will host a screening and Q&A with Mickey Reece, whose film “Alien” won best narrative feature at TAFF 2017. This will give students the opportunity not only to see what professional filmmakers in Oklahoma are producing, but also to ask one what it took to get there. Arredondo also gives students free passes to TAFF, has commissioned student film projects for past festivals, and provides opportunities for internships and volunteer work at the festival.

Regarding his students’ work and what sets it apart, Edwards emphasized two things he prides himself on: One, that they work in an entirely censorship-free environment.

“What we’re doing is edgy,” Edwards said. “We’re pushing the envelope creatively, and there’s quality there; there’s a production value considering the lack of resources.”

And two: “The cultural diversity that’s going on within the student body is represented onscreen.”

I asked Tyler Tush, one of Edwards’ students, what it meant to look forward to seeing his work on the big screen.

“That motivated us and pushed us to make our films the best they could be,” Tush said, “so for me that’s very exciting, and obviously as filmmakers that’s what we all want.”

Edwards showed me Michelle Vang’s short, “Halving the Compass,” filmed this semester for his class. Vang’s film, dedicated to a friend, expresses the difficulty of understanding someone’s pain, even when you share many meaningful memories.

The inclusion of Vang’s film shows that this year’s TCC Best of Short Shorts promises exciting new talent.

Desi and Cody will perform at a free after-party across the street in Kendall-Whittier Square—food and drinks will be provided.

TAFF is accepting film and screenplay submissions through July 31.

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