Chase Devens, a senior at UW, has been chosen as one of the three finalists in the IES Abroad Study Abroad Film Festival.
A total of 99 students from all over the world submitted their original films to the festival, hoping to showcase what they took away from studying abroad with the IES program. From these students, three finalists were determined by a panel of distinguished film directors, editors, producers and screenwriters with a connection to the program.
According to a press release, Amy Ruhter McMillan, the founder of the IES Abroad Study Abroad Film Festival, said the contest provides students with a special opportunity to express themselves artistically.
“The IES Abroad Film Festival gives students a unique platform to share their authentic, life-changing, global experiences through their own voices,” Ruhter McMillan said.
Deven’s film “Les Cinq Mois,” translating to “The Five Months,” documented his time in Paris with the program.
“I like to think of ‘Les Cinq Mois’ as a coming-of-age story. At its core, it is a story about my growth in handling challenging situations and learning to always find enjoyment in the present situation,” Devens said.
Devens collaborated on the film with David Smith, who helped to create original music for the film and write the script. Having met while studying abroad, the partnership seemed like an obvious choice for the pair and something essential to effectively sharing their story.
“After spending 5 months together nearly every day, this whole video came together over phone calls and late night working sessions. I do not think anything I could have created on my own would come close to this video, and that appreciation for collaboration is probably my biggest take away from the project,” Devens said.
According to IES, the festival features “creative short films that will leave you with a deep sense of wanderlust and appreciation of the power of study abroad.”
Devens believes he captured this but was also able to show a part of himself through the film.
“We felt that there was a misconception about the idea of college students studying abroad. All of the stories and advice we had heard before we left painted the time overseas as a fairy tale. We came back with a deep understanding of the power of studying abroad for a completely different set of reasons than any story we had heard in the past, and it was our goal to channel that appreciation into the video,” Devens said.
The festival was founded back in 2014 and is one of the first student-centered study abroad film festivals in the industry. “Even in its sixth year, we are still awed by the level of quality, dedication and storytelling abilities of our students,” McMillan said.
The festival not only serves to encourage students to look into studying abroad, but also works to raise money for their scholarship fund. This year the festival brought in over $40,000 from sponsors, equivalent to 22 IES Abroad students with $2,500 scholarships each to assist them with studying abroad in the coming semesters, according to IES.
The other two finalists, Siyu Zhou from the University of South Carolina and Kirsten Mossberg from the University of Michigan, will be joining Devens at the award ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago Nov. 7.
The winner will be chosen by a public vote through the IES website through Nov. 5.