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About Us


The UIUC Student Film Festival is an annual celebration of the creativity and diversity of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign film making communities.  Our mission is to offer a creative platform for diverse voices in filmmaking across the UIUC campus and present their vision to the University community at large. The Festival features productions from University of Illinois RSOs, College of Media production classes and independent student projects. We welcome a variety of submissions: short narratives and documentary, experimental films, video essays, dance and music videos, travelogues, and animation. The UIUC Student Film Festival is committed to creating and sustaining a platform through which these student productions can be shared with the University and the Champaign-Urbana community.

A Brief History

Over the past decade, the Illini Film Fest has gone under several iterations as it has sought a permanent identity. Through this decade, the festival has changed names numerous times and has adjusted its content accordingly. However, its roots have never strayed too far. Created as a part of the Media and Cinema Studies curriculum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the class -- MACS 464 -- dedicates the spring semester to teaching students the history, functions, and value of film festivals, as well as challenging them with planning and executing a film festival of their own.

Conceived in 2010, the festival was born under the oversight of Professors Richard Leskosky and Ivy Glennon, and ran under the title Movies to the MACS! This initial version lasted through 2012 until the class fell under the tutelage of Richard Potter. In 2013, the festival changed its name to the Illini Independent Film Festival. The next year, after another change of hands, the festival became the EtcFilmFest. This new version of the festival expanded to include live music performances from local bands. By 2015, yet another change had occurred. The festival started accepting digital submissions, allowing for even further expansion. By 2019, the festival, renamed Illinifest and carried under the wing of Dora Valkanova, had greatly surpassed all initial expectations for the event.


In 2020, the festival has undergone yet another transformation. Now titled the Illini Film Fest, the 11th installment of the student film festival is operating with a rather unique challenge. The line up included short films in multiple formats and genres, plus student submitted home movies and Tik Toks. Spearheaded by Jonathan Knipp, the 2020 Illini FIlm Fest was the first year that the festival had existed entirely online. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, public gatherings had been all but outlawed. However, because this film festival is not only an entertainment event for the U of I and Champaign-Urbana community, but also a vehicle for showcasing student talent and diversity through the art of motion picture, it was decided that the show must go on.

In 2021, the newly renamed UIUC Student Film Festival continued to use the
format of online stream. The May 1 st event was streamed live for viewers at
home. For 2022, the UIUC Student Film Festival was able to stage an in-person event
as well as maintain the live-stream. The best of both worlds! It’s all to honor and celebrate the creative spirit of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign student filmmakers. We can wait for another exciting festival year! We hope to see you all again at the Spurlock Museum on April 28th, 2023! 

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