Campus Profile: Virginia Commonwealth University

Fourth in a series of articles from our visits to colleges and universities that are invited to participate in the 2018 College Film Awards in November.

Poe wandered about most of his life, never truly having one city to call his own. In a sense, we at the Poe Film Festival have that wandering feeling as we determine whether our College Film Awards should travel about Virginia from year to year, from one college to another, until we settle down.

Enter Virginia Commonwealth University in uptown Richmond. It’s difficult for us not to call VCU our home.

One lesson from our 2017 festival is the importance of a central location that can be reached by car in two to three hours at most by our traveling college students. VCU checks that box. Second, our venue must offer a “big screen” experience for our filmmakers, in a setting for 200-300 guests. VCU can handle that. Finally, the festival must provide better facilities for networking and educational programs. We discovered today that VCU can provide that.

On top of those criteria, VCU brings a world-class cinema and media arts department brimming with creative story ideas and student film projects. This year, we must tap into that creativity and bring VCU into our fold of colleges.

We met with Hong Cheng, director of VCU’s School of Media and Culture, to strengthen our ties with the university and open more avenues of communication with its student filmmakers. Dr. Cheng reported that his school offers a capstone class each semester where teams of students produce short documentaries as a final project.

That got us thinking: why not offer an award in a documentary category? One of our strongest entries last year was a documentary from a Virginia Tech student. Surely, many of our colleges could participate in such a category.

So we pursue VCU as our home team this year and join in what they call “Chaos.” Go Rams!

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