Jennifer Choe's one-minute video of her father squeezing grapefruit juice for breakfast started out as a workshop project at Cypress College. It ended up on the program this weekend at Europe's largest video festival.
"I was so surprised when I heard--it's overwhelming," said Choe, 20. Her video, titled "Daddy," was one of three selected to play on the festival's Web site. In all, 10 videos made at the Cypress College workshop are playing at Video Minuto Pop TV, a two-day event expected to draw as many as 12,000 people to the Center for Contemporary Art in Florence, Italy.
The shorts were made earlier this year as part of a weeklong study under European videographer Federico D'Orazio, an Italian artist who lives in The Netherlands. D'Orazio also worked with students from Cal State Fullerton a year ago. Five of their videos are being shown at the festival.
D'Orazio, whose own work had been shown in previous festivals, submitted a selection of the students' videos for consideration. Those chosen are the first American works to be included at the annual event, he said.
D'Orazio, who works in many art mediums but says he prefers video, said he was struck by how readily the students embraced the camera.
"They did a great job," he said. "All the work was done in a very professional way, and most of them had never even held a camera in their hands before. At first they were a bit lost because they didn't know anything about video, but once they got started, the eye accounts were so good."
D'Orazio gives part of the credit to MTV, the music-video network that has become standard fare for U.S. teens.
But Paul Paiement, assistant professor of fine arts at Cypress College, gives the kudos to D'Orazio.
"As an instructor, he didn't limit them to what they could do," Paiement said. "He didn't want to censor any of their concepts and didn't want to filter their ideas."
Paiement, D'Orazio and Cal State Fullerton art professor Mike McGee are in Florence this weekend for the festival.
The American students' videos, some of which are provocative, aim to give a 60-second glimpse of reality in the United States.
Mark Caneso's "Ready for School" shows his 16-year-old brother filling a backpack with supplies for school: a gun, a knife, cigarettes. Caneso said his aim was to illustrate the effect that violence has on teenagers.
"I was thinking about my little brother and all the violence in schools," said Caneso, a 20-year-old advertising and graphic design student at Cypress College. "I wanted it to be like a public service announcement, but there's no talking. You just see him get up in the morning, then packing his backpack with these things, then he's ready for school. And that's what kids are doing these days."
With "16 Degrees of Identification," Cal State Fullerton student Amy Caterina wanted to show the similarities between forensic and medical science. In her black-and-white video, images of a man washing his hands and carefully pulling on a pair of latex gloves alternate with pictures of blood and surgical instruments.
"It could be someone studying forensics, or it could be a doctor getting ready to perform surgery," said Caterina, 26, who is working toward a master's degree in fine arts. "My goal was to show the uncomfortable similarities of surgery and crime."
In "Schizophrenic," Cypress student Bruce Sanborn captures Southern Californians' struggle with food versus fitness, alternating shots of workout equipment and people gobbling down hamburgers.
For student Choe, whose video immortalized her family's daily breakfast routine, the workshop stirred a new passion. She is taking a film class at Cal State Long Beach and hopes to enroll there when she completes her courses at Cypress.