UT students create Equinox Film Festival


Danielle Lopez

Twice a year, the sun crosses the earth’s equator, the seasons change, and day and night become equal in length — this is an equinox. Two UT students aim to give independent filmmakers a chance to present their work around this event at the Equinox Film Festival. 

In the spring of 2014, West by West Campus, a student-organized film and music festival, had its last run. Inspired by WXWC, radio-television-film senior Jeff Mertz and geology senior Max Bridges combined their interest in film and Mertz’s love of astrology to create the student showcase. The festival will take place Friday in the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center’s auditorium.

“Going to West by West Campus’ film fest felt like such a great communal experience,” Mertz said. “Really being in touch with both West Campus and the student film community just felt really cool. Once West by West Campus was over it just seemed like something else had to be done.” Mertz submitted his work to WXWC’s film portion last year but was rejected. He said this helped motivate him to develop Equinox.

“It’s part of me wanting to start something for people like me that didn’t get into other things and to just be more accepting of diversity,” Mertz said. “And beyond that, I’ve always had a profound connection to the changing of the seasons, and I want to create a connection and awareness to it.”

Although the festival was created with students in mind, it is open to all independent filmmakers who want to screen their work. 

“We’re all part of the same community, and I think we all have very similar struggles,” Mertz said. “So excluding it as a students-only film festival would be counterintuitive to the message we’re trying to create.”

The only restriction on submissions was that they be under 15 minutes. Mertz said that, unlike other film festivals, the submissions did not have to be restrained to one certain genre. Additionally, Mertz and Bridges said Equinox is not a contest.

“I think, more than anything, I hope to give students a place to show their work if they haven’t had a chance to show it elsewhere,” Mertz said. “Having a place for that kind of diverse material is good.”

Bridges said that the festival will be a great way to socialize with other people interested in film.

“It’ll be interesting to see why some people are there, and the story behind their film if they submitted one,” Bridges said. “Then maybe we can network and work on projects together in the future.”

Nader Ibrahim, a radio-television-film senior and creator of one of the 10 films that will be shown, said he made his film two years ago but never submitted it anywhere.

“I decided that this would be a cool chance to finally do that,” Ibrahim said. “I just want to see what [Equinox] is all about and get to watch other people’s work.”

Mertz intends to hold the festival every semester near the time of the equinoxes. Although Mertz is a senior, he will be taking a fifth year before graduating, giving him more time to establish Equinox. 

“I don’t have any plans to do what [West by West Campus] did and stop just so it can be my legacy,” Mertz said. “That would defeat the reason why I’m doing this. If the support is there, I hope this can go on indefinitely.”