UCI student filmmakers get the star treatment at a previous year’s Zotfest. School of Humanities

Zotfest, UCI’s annual student film festival, is 20 years old. To celebrate, this year’s event will take place – for the first time – at the Irvine Barclay Theatre and feature a panel of entertainment industry professionals, as well as an anniversary tribute.

Free and open to the public, Zotfest 2019 will kick off at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 3, with the premiere of “Don’t Stop Us Now,” an eight-minute musical inspired by Queen. After the curated student films are screened, business insiders with links to UCI will discuss the changing landscape of film/television creation and distribution today, including the associated opportunities and challenges. The presentation of awards and a catered reception follow.

What distinguishes Zotfest from other university film festivals is not only its longevity, but that it has always been a student undertaking, uniting UCI students from all backgrounds and departments in the goal of producing a creative, expressionistic and diverse experience.

“It’s all student-run,” says Sarah Brandenburg, a senior double majoring in business administration and film & media studies who’s in her second year of directing Zotfest. “We work on it all year, and we try to incorporate students from across all disciplines. For example, the awards this year are sculpted by a studio arts major, instead of being traditional plaques from a store.”

“The world we live in is very visual,” adds film producer Ivan Williams, who earned an MBA at UCI in 1996, is a trustee of the UCI Foundation, and will serve as a Zotfest 2019 judge and panelist. “The UCI student films have a strong orientation toward diverse and unheard voices – and also voices that contribute to social good.”

Started in 1999 by the campus’s Film-Arts-Drama Alliance, Zotfest receives 45 to 60 submissions annually. Films undergo a review process with industry professionals and UCI faculty to determine which ones will be shown at the festival. This year, 10 student films will be exhibited, with prizes given in eight categories: best picture (which gets the Golden Anteater award), best director, people’s choice, best performance, best screenplay, best cinematography, best editing and best sound design. The event typically draws an audience of more than 400 people.

Tickets to Zotfest 2019 are free and available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/Zotfest-2019-tickets-58355331367.