What was created on a whim two decades ago by a few Baylor University students has grown into an annual event that attracts an audience eager to see the best work of creative, young filmmakers.
On April 27, 2019, Baylor’s Black Glasses Film Festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary with an evening of film screenings beginning at 7 p.m. at the downtown Waco Hippodrome Theatre. The festival began in 1999, when Baylor’s award-winning film and digital media program was simply a concentration in the communication department.
“Some Baylor film students who wanted to showcase their work and that of of their fellow students decided to have a festival and name it in honor of a film professor here who wore black-rimmed glasses,” said Chris Hansen, chair and professor of film and digital media. “They called it the Black Glasses Film Festival in her honor, and the name just stuck.”
In its earliest years, the festival included whatever work that any student wanted to have screened. Over time, however, Hansen and other faculty members decided to make the festival competitive, becoming more like those held to show professional work. As a result, a committee of faculty members was created to look over films submitted by students and choose only the best ones to include in the festival. The committee also decides which films will win in a number of competitive categories.
Hansen said students who submit their films to Black Glasses experience the same process that professional filmmakers do.
“We view taking part in Black Glasses as part of the education process,” he said. “Our students submit their films, go through the process of hoping to get selected, and then once they’re selected they have to provide what any film festival requires, including information and a final version of the film to screen. All the things a regular film festival does, we do in miniature.”
Hansen said that many times, student filmmakers competing at Black Glasses are showing their work to a general audience for the first time.
“Screening a film in our department to a classroom of students and faculty is very different than screening it to an audience of people whom you don’t know, and who have bought a ticket expecting to be entertained. They will sit there and see their film screened with a whole bunch of strangers around them,” Hansen said. “It’s both a pressure and a great opportunity for our students to experience that.”
Hansen said anyone who makes it out to the Hippodrome to take part in the festival shouldn’t
“In addition to showcasing the best work of our students, we’re trying to put on films that will entertain a general audience,” he said. “It’s a great mix of things, because our students are doing all kinds of different work –– some comedy, some drama, some documentaries and animation –– so there’s probably something for everyone.”