Student Night Livens Up First Friday Downtown

The crowd listening to the artists who performed for First Friday.

The crowd listening to the artists who performed for First Friday.

The mood was festive on Friday night at the Turner Pavilion in Harrisonburg. What is usually a bustling farmer’s market morphed into a stage to suit the many college student performers out to showcase their talents for the new Downtown Film Series.
The Film Series runs in conjunction with First Fridays, allowing artists of every medium a chance to display their talents.
The Film Series started in May, according to Nicole Martorana, the overseer of the series. This past Friday, college students, now in the area for the semester again, took part in the event. They showcased their short films and other musical, dance, and dramatic talents. James Madison University’s “Exit 245” started the performances with a cappella covers of everything from Mumford and Sons to classic Disney movie sound tracks. As the evening progressed various musical groups featured alternative styles ranging from brass-filled jazz bands to Appalachian string band music. Among the performances were also choreographed dance sets and improvised comedy acts.

Jesse Reist, Sophomore, performs at the First Friday event downtown.

Jesse Reist, Sophomore, performs at the First Friday event downtown.

The true features of the night were the film submissions. In conjunction with First Friday, which is usually a time to showcase the local artists, this film series allows for another brand of local artists – the film producers – to showcase their work. Amateur film producers from all of the surrounding colleges and universities submitted self-produced work for showing on the projected screen.
There wasn’t as large of a turnout as expected for this event, thus every submission was shown. But the series for each Friday has a theme, meaning the movies shown are selected according to their relevance to the theme. This past Friday the theme was college night, hence college student submis- sions were shown.
EMU alumnus Cody Troyer’s short thriller, which he produced last year, was one of the films screened.

“I had no idea this was going to play. I don’t remember submitting it,” he said. “But it’s awesome that it’s up there!”

Such was the feel for many of the acts. People did not know what to expect, but no act failed to produce pleasing results for the audience, a motley collection of college students buzzing through from other First Friday events and long-time Harrisonburg community folk out to see the talents of local college groups and individuals.
The first installment of the film series was held in May, and featured local storytellers and more short films. On this past Friday, as many of the local colleges and universities are now back in session, Nicole Martorana featured as many college acts as possible. The last installment of the series will be on Friday, October 4, and will feature local
food and farm-to-table initiatives with live chef demonstrations, food tastings, and local food films.

 

-Chris Yoder, Staff Writer; photo cred. Alicia Calkins


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