Film festival marks 20 years

Alums recall event that helped launch careers

| Author: Eric Baerren | Media Contact: Aaron Mills

The road to this year’s Central Michigan International Film Festival started in 2002 in Toronto.

Angel Bryant, ’03 and Patrick Powell, ‘03, then CMU broadcasting students and members of CMU Film Society, decided to start a film festival in Mt. Pleasant. They took a trip – organized by the registered student organization and Mark Poindexter, a broadcast and cinematic arts faculty member -- to scout Toronto’s film festival.

CMU Film Society launched the first film festival the following year. Aside from the COVID-interrupted 2021, it’s has happened every year.

Bryant and Powell graduated, moved to Los Angeles and both have thriving careers in television. They’re also close friends.

This year’s festival recognizes that what they helped start 20 years ago is still around.

The most notable way they’re celebrating the anniversary is by showcasing three films from the festival’s inaugural year. All three are scheduled for viewings at the Broadway Theater, one of four venues for this year’s films. The films include “Love, Actually;” “School of Rock;” and “Finding Nemo.”

Patty Williamson, interim director of the Honors Program and festival organizer since 2017, said Bryant and Powell had hoped to attend the celebration, but couldn’t due to busy careers that started at CMU.

Bryant is currently editing the newest season of “The Upshaws,” a Netflix series, and recently wrapped up editing the Mel Brooks comedy “History of the World, Pt. 2,” which premieres on Hulu in March.

“I love editing,” she said. “I love sitting in front of my computer and crafting a story.”

When she got to Los Angeles, she found that working in front of a greenscreen — as she did while producing shows for Moore Hall TV — was a skill in demand. During her time at CMU, she also received early hands-on training on two editing programs that are now industry standards.

Powell, who is working on the reality series “Naked and Afraid” and has written thrillers for the Lifetime network, said launching the festival boosted his confidence.

“A lot of the career path is jumping into the deep end,” he said.

The festival’s first film starts at noon on Feb. 15 at Celebration Cinema Mount Pleasant. Broadway Theater and Opperman Auditorium in Park Library offer screenings with paid tickets. International films, shown free of charge, will screen Feb. 19 in CMU’s Museum of Cultural and Natural History.

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