Sonscreen is an Adventist film festival hosted by the NAD that takes place every year during the spring in Southern California. This year, Sonscreen was in Loma Linda, CA, where more than 20 PUC film students and alums attended, along with professors Rajeev Sigamoney and Tim de la Torre. At the festival, they attended film screenings, professional showcases, participated in a pitch competition, and attended the awards banquet.
PUC film and television honors alum Sierra Lewis ‘22 has attended the festival three times and sadly couldn’t make it out to this year’s festival like she hoped. Sierra has always enjoyed going since it’s a great time to bond with the department and connect with other filmmakers and creatives from other schools. During this year’s festival, she won the Jury Award and was runner-up for Best Documentary.
What does winning the Jury Award mean to you?
Since graduating from PUC, it hasn’t been as easy to find/make time for my art, and I’m not working in a “creative field” at the moment. But winning the Jury Award means a lot because it gave me that validation that reminded me that I’m on the right track, despite what it looks like- and that I shouldn’t give up because there’s a place for my work and for these stories to be told in the world.
Share with us about the project you submitted for this category.
The project I submitted to the festival was my senior thesis documentary titled, Echoes. My intention was to explore the idea of what “do it yourself” (DIY) looks like within the Black community and its intersectionality between arts and politics.
I was lucky enough to get to know some amazing artists from a collective called Nure (based in Oakland, CA), and I juxtaposed their stories alongside found/archival footage that I felt “echoed” what was being said. At least for me, the idea of Black DIY is something that feels like a cultural heritage, and I hope that the film was able to showcase that tradition.
You were also Best Documentary Runner-Up at the festival. Talk to us about your documentary.
As far as inspiration for the film, I’m inspired by creative and introspective people. People who think and philosophize about life, and can’t help but synthesize their thoughts and feelings with a creative outlet.
In any case, for most (if not all) of my films, I tend to be led by music. I always make a playlist that helps me enter the right headspace for the project that I’m working on. For Echoes, there were a lot of Moses Sumney, Solange, and moody jazz instrumentals.
How did you develop an interest in filmmaking? Did you know you always wanted to do this?
Oh boy. My interest in filmmaking actually developed from Youtube. When I was a high school freshman, I had a YouTube channel with a close friend, which lasted for a few years. As time went on, I wanted to keep pushing myself further to make videos of quality, vs just silly challenges or whatever. Eventually, I made my first little short film and started doing character profiles on my friends. My mom thought I should study film in college, so you can say the rest is history haha.
How has being a student at PUC helped you grow as a filmmaker?
Oh my goodness, being a student at PUC has expedited so much of my growth as a filmmaker and artist. There’s such great energy in the Visual Arts Department at Fisher Hall. Our professors give so much to provide us with great experiences both inside and outside of the classroom, from the various film projects to the different excursions like trekking down to Sonscreen Film Festival. It’s a beautiful, safe space, and I’ve always felt supported by my teachers and peers. Fisher feels like home.
Is there someone at PUC that has made an impact on you?
Gosh so many. If I had to give names, I’d say Michael Jefferson, Dean Philpott, and every teacher in the Visual Arts Department- no explanation needed.
Can you share any future projects with us?
At the moment, I’m trying to work on an accompanying zine for my thesis film. Sort of like supplementary material, and other than that, I’m working on putting out movie reviews/film critiques and experimenting with different formats for that kind of content too. Anything else, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. 😉