San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec




San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Valentine’s Film Festival showcases TFM students’ best short films

The+student+short+film+Sweet+Tooth+directed+by+Kelse+Whitfield+and+Lucas+Hespenheide+follows+a+blue+animated+character+who+schemes+to+eat+a+cake+on+the+kitchen+counter.
Screenshot courtesy of “Sweet Tooth”
The student short film “Sweet Tooth” directed by Kelse Whitfield and Lucas Hespenheide follows a blue animated character who schemes to eat a cake on the kitchen counter.

The School of Theater, Music and Film’s Valentine’s Film Festival premiered online on Friday, Feb. 11. The ticketed event had a total running time of slightly over an hour, and included 10 short films produced by various student filmmakers at San Diego State.

The shorts included in this production span several years, dating back to 2012. The development and growth of SDSU’s film department is made evident with the increasing quality of the shorts, not only in the production value itself, but also in the increasingly interesting and entertaining storylines. The film festival was a mixed bag, with some shorts notably towering over others.

Charmingly sweet, the opening short features a circular, blue animated character that craves a cake sitting on the kitchen counter. “Sweet Tooth,” directed by Kelse Whitfield and Lucas Hespenheide, is a comedic short that follows our little blue friend’s Pink Panther-like antics to get to the cake. Ultimately, our friend gets to the cake by using a spoon as a catapult and throwing an orange onto the other side. The short is notably elevated by Ben Eshbach’s praiseworthy scoring that carefully accompanies our main character’s mischievous actions. 

A short by independent film producer Grimm Films and directed by Erin Martinez was also featured in the festival. “Alone Together” simultaneously follows the two perspectives of a recently separated couple. From the grievous aftermath to the eventual encounter of a new relationship, we watch side-by-side as the events unfold. In time, however, both newly-found partners turn sour. The short abandons the side-by-side format as their stories meet again when the guy returns to his ex’s doorstep only to turn away at the last second. In the end, they are, in fact, alone together.

"(Un)paused," directed by Ralph Blanchard, is a science fiction short film that blends the lines between grief and reality.
“(Un)paused,” directed by Ralph Blanchard, is a science fiction short film that blends the lines between grief and reality. (Screenshot courtesy of “(Un)paused” )

Directed by Ralph Blanchard, “(Un)paused” is a delightfully intriguing science fiction short. The story follows a science fiction writer who struggles to write the ending to his novel while facing the pressure of his editors. As the editors rush him, he sulks in his home, missing his departed wife and trying to neatly wrap up his new novel. The writer rewatches an old homemade cassette of the two of them on a hike, and his wife comes alive on his screen, talking to him and urging him to join her. When the editor stops by the following day to check-in on him, he finds nothing but the old cassette still playing with the writer now inside the film, and the unfinished manuscript, where the last line reads “And with great uncertainty, he stepped into the void.”

Cleverly hilarious, “Wordless,” directed by Laura Gill, follows a lonely, single mom that looks for entertainment through “Spelling with Buddies,” a Scrabble-like online game in which she plays against a random opponent. The situation quickly escalates as they flirt through the words they play, and she sends a picture of herself in a bikini from when she graduated college, many years ago. As she barges into her son’s room to check on why he is being loud, she finds that her opponent was no one other than her own son as he stares at the picture of his mother and scrambles to cover up. Both, naturally disgusted, enter into a brief argument that ends in her running back to her room. The ending scene shows as she plays one final word on the board: “THERAPY.”

The ending short, “Romance is Dead,” directed by Todd Jackson, is a craftingly executed story of Donovan, a man that attempts to bring back his deceased fiance through necromancy and Adam, his best friend whom he drags into the spell. Briefly into “Romance is Dead,” the format transforms into a musical as both move around the house, with Adam attempting to discourage Donovan from partaking in witchcraft and necromancy. As they continue to discuss this, Adam learns the spell requires the sacrifice of a human soul and his widowed friend has planned to sacrifice his girlfriend. They continue to argue as Adam tries to console his grieving friend and Adam’s girlfriend, Samantha, is unconscious, perhaps even dead, on the pentagram Donovan drew on the living room carpet. As the short ends, the two friends discover Samantha is not actually dead as she regains consciousness and they all turn to the cauldron Donovan was using to see a hand coming out amidst the smoke.

About the Contributor
Marian Cuevas, Staff Writer
Marian (she/they) is a Mexican-born composer, pianist, artist, and writer. At SDSU, she is a double major in Piano Performance and Philosophy that first joined The Daily Aztec as a contributor for the Arts & Culture section. Before being a musician, they were a writer and a visual artist. In their artistic endeavors, Marian explores the possibilities of creation that merge the various artistic disciplines that she has devoted her heart to. After a year with Arts & Culture, Marian's philosophical interest in ethics and metaphysics led to her interest in joining the Opinion section. In addition to the regular exploration of different artistic disciplines, in her free time Marian enjoys reading, playing music with her friends, and driving around new neighborhoods.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Valentine’s Film Festival showcases TFM students’ best short films