The 20th Annual Diogenes Film Festival Celebrates PUC’s Film Program

By Ally Romanes on June 19, 2024

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The Visual Arts Department at Pacific Union College celebrated their film students at the 20th Annual Diogenes Film Festival. On May 30 at the Cameo Cinema in Saint Helena, 120 audience members watched 22 films by 18 filmmakers.

In previous years, the department welcomed judges outside campus, but this year, the judges were kept within the faculty of PUC. Some of the winners included Sam Birsky, who received the Orsons Disciple; Dylan Sails and Melanie Klinedinst, who won the Audience Choice Award for Minority Report and Kateryna Popravkina for What Is This Feeling? Sails also received Best Screenplay for Before Next Winter, and Klinedinst won Filmmaker of the Future.

PUC's film program emphasizes students learning to articulate their own concepts and stories and produce them at the highest quality. Visual Arts Chair Rajeev Sigamoney and Professor Tim de la Torre assist during production when needed but give their students the freedom to edit their projects as they see fit and support them as they make their vision come to life.

Some projects, such as the senior thesis, took the entire school year to make, while others, like the freshmen projects, were completed over 2-3 weeks. “Seeing films screened in a professional theater with a packed audience can open the eyes to the possibility of their creative voice and can also be the culmination of a full career as a film student,” said Sigamoney. “It is a powerful way to connect with others through their art and craft.”

With this being his last year teaching, Sigamoney received a heartfelt tribute video by his current and former students that left many in tears. His department and community showered him with love and celebrated Sigamoney’s 12 amazing years at PUC.

That moment was bittersweet, as the visual arts department had been processing for a few months that Sigamoney would leave their tight-knit community. “In that moment, I could feel the pride of what he helped build here and the many lives he has touched,” said de la Torre. “Even though we are sad he is leaving, his legacy lives on in the culture he helped shape in his 12 years here. Gone but not forgotten.”

“The Diogenes Film Festival is an extension of the safe space that the PUC Visual Arts Department creates in Fisher Hall throughout the year,” shared Sigamoney. “A time for individual students to display their unique voice, recognize that they belong, and be celebrated. It truly is one of the most special days of my school year. I say all the time, graduation is for the parents, Diogenes is for us!”