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There's a brief moment of semi-darkness before a movie starts where the anxiety of the audience is nearly tangible in the air. The excitement and the anticipation of leaving your troubles behind for a while builds.

A director orchestrates and breathes life into the soul of a film. Last Thursday, a collection of student directors had the opportunity to view their creations on the big screen in the historic Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda. As part of the annual Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, students could submit short films ranging anywhere from four to 22 minutes.

The first film was "Beneath," directed by Christopher Fernandez. This suspenseful and haunting short film explores a failed marriage, intermingling reality with fantasy. Gasps could be heard in the theater's darkness as "Beneath" explored an interesting take on the classical Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Other films included in the screening were: "Advanced Cybernetics," directed by Steven Day, an animated film that looks into super-computers and abstract thought; "Getting Inked," directed by Glen Cashetta, examines the art of tattooing through vintage photos and an interview with tattoo artist Mary Jane Maines; "Scout's Honor," directed by Tobe Darton, portrays a young Sunflower Scout who escapes an attempted abduction while selling door-to-door; "A Window Into Willard," directed by Nicole Favale, investigates the historic Willard Asylum for the Insane in Ovid, through inmate accounts and doctors' reports; "Hockey Mom," directed by Adam Scheiner, is a hilarious short exploring the fictional views of a mother whose son has finally been allowed to play youth hockey.

Another film that was garnering buzz is "Liberty," directed by 21-year-old Ben Disinger from the Rochester Institute of Technology. The five-minute piece is the music video for Manchester Orchestra's song "Virgin." Disinger originally created it as a silent film for school before adding Manchester Orchestra's music. The thought-provoking video has received recognition and illustrates the downfall of American society as a result of fast food, television and pollution.

Disinger said it was a great experience to see his film on the big screen.

For more information, visit www.thebnff.com.

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Elaina Marino is a junior at Niagara Falls High School.