Sitting on the Jury for Watersprite Film Festival

Image credit: DB Franco

Having an interest in film is different to having film experience, and the latter is something I have been significantly lacking thus far in my life. Being able to write about movies, I have realised, is something altogether unlike passing a constructive opinion on them on a jury, but in December I was given the opportunity to practice my hand at both by sitting on one of the panels for the Watersprite Film Festival, which will be taking place in Cambridge this February. 

The jury took place in London’s Soho and constituted approximately twelve people from across the country (and in a few cases, even further across the pond). The criteria for being a jury member seemed to be flexible, with everyone from retirees to writers, agents, grad students, and undergraduates like myself being involved in the process. This was extremely beneficial for hearing a range of views on the short films we discussed in the panel’s duration, which lasted around two hours, and led to us selecting the winner of our category for the film festival. 

I have to admit, playing a role in voting for the winning short film was pretty daunting, especially when I felt quite under-qualified to be passing judgement compared to many of the other jurors: men and women with careers in film and journalism, or film school students, who were more capable of being objective about the fresh work we were given. 

However, as we discussed the range of films on show for us, I began to notice trends of thought emerging amongst us. I often sided with those on the jury who appreciated the tales of humanity, sentimentality, and emotional connection, which reassured me that I was deserving of my place on the panel after all. Agreement on the films wasn’t always unanimous across the board though, and a clear distinction between viewpoints grew, with most films polarising the jury on issues of visual style and actual filmmaking talent. This was made even more difficult by the variety of genres of film on display, including fantasy, mockumentary, and a Memento-style whodunit thriller. As someone who enjoys nostalgia in the films they watch, I wondered whether it was justified to shortlist only films that I personally valued compared to others whose genre I didn’t enjoy, but whose production value and execution were extremely impressive. Yet ultimately, it felt only right to go with my gut on the films I believed evoked the most authentic emotional impact from its viewers.

Sitting on the panel was daunting but ultimately exciting, and was something I could only have done through connections at The Cambridge Student. In a way, then, my writing about movies was what gave me the chance to get involved in bigger and better ways, and is something I am extremely grateful to have been able to do. At the end of the two hours, I came away feeling as though I had a greater sense of what I look for when watching and judging a movie, as well as an appreciation for the work that goes into creating short films across the globe to be put forward for consideration - this heightened by the fact that our voting was left secret, and we left not knowing which film we ourselves had selected to win. 

Organising and running a film festival like Watersprite, with its multitude of categories and events, seems to be a tiring but rewarding job, and it is commendable that so many people on the team are students or young people. Now, all that is left to look forward to is the festival itself.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Stories

In this section

Across the site

Best of the Rest