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De Anza College celebrates 20 years of student filmmaking

By Richard von Busack

WHEN ZAKI LISHA arrived at De Anza College in Cupertino more than 20 years ago, there was no film department. After 20 years of Lisha's work as a film and television instructor at De Anza, a student can learn filmmaking, television or computer animation at the college. Some 1,000 students per quarter enroll at De Anza to study everything from computer graphics to screenwriting. Lisha has watched the materials change from 8mm film to CD, but as he says, "We changed the tools, but the way we use the tools hasn't changed. We still work together; it's different than the cutthroat atmosphere at the bigger film schools."

The 20th-anniversary edition of the annual best of De Anza student show brings back some highlights of two decades of student films made at the school. Among them is Chris Perry and David Casci's short "Extended Play" (1981), listed as the most award-honored of all student films by the Encyclopedia Britannica. This prime example of college humor is an ambitiously constructed, sick-comic view of a malign video arcade with such attractions as "Hit and Run" and "Sink the Good Ship Hope."

"Rêve de la Mer" (1997) by Michael Derrosset is a well-photographed, immaculately produced pastiche of a Nouvelle Vague film, in French with subtitles--with, I presume, half-serious dialogue. The voice of the Great Prognosticator, Criswell, is given a claymation skeleton impersonator in "Skullwell Predicts" as he declaims the immortal opening from the film Plan 9 From Outer Space. "Housecats" by Peg McClure Moudy shows a sure hand at the tricky task of drawing felines. Helmut Glew's "The Wheelbarrow" is an enigmatic piece about a character's Parker Brothers-inspired reverie. And Al Hernandez's inspired "Island Zoetrope," my favorite, is a thoroughly original experimental film about industrial decay, staged with ashcans, hideous inflatable puppets and an expressionist backdrop of a '30s city.

The De Anza College 20th Annual Student Film Festival plays Friday (Nov. 19) at 7:30pm in Forum 1 at De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. Admission is $5. (408.864.8371)

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From the November 18-24, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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