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UW-RF Student Premieres Short Film

By Molly Exner
UW-RF News Bureau

FEB. 4, 2005--UW-River Falls' student Virginia Steffen presents an abstract look into internal reality with her short film, "Her Own Truth," at 7 p.m., Feb. 13 in Abbott Concert Hall of the Kleinpell Fine Arts Building at UW-RF. The event is free and open to the public.

Steffen, a Tyler, Minn., high school graduate and River Falls resident, describes the film as semi-abstract, semi-narrative and semi-autobiographical. The biography is about a young woman named Ayla, whose life is told from spiritual influences, rather than events, as turning points in the film to demonstrate what's going on and where things are going.

Steffen says, "I'm trying to do something I've never seen done. I'm trying to represent internal reality."

The film's characters speak to the camera and represent abstract ideas, such as death. Steffen says, "When they talk about ideas, they talk about themes that have been the driving force of my life moving forward."

"Her Own Truth" approaches the subject of how people create their own subjective realities, how they can change the way they interact with these realities and the world, and how the choices people make shape and direct their lives.

Steffen, a UW-RF senior majoring in art with minors in English and film, calls herself an unconventional writer. "I don't think in straight lines; I think in circles."

The film was made over six months. Gathering random ideas for scenes, Steffen says she wasn't really sure how to put them all together, so she came to the conclusion that she had to make the film semi-autobiographical.

Steffen looked at her big "mess" of scenes, wrote them on little pieces of paper, spread them out on the floor and began putting order to her chaos—adding and subtracting elements—even during shooting. Steffen said shooting the film in October was the most enjoyable part. "I love having a million things going on at once."

UW-RF Professor of speech communication and theatre arts Ken Stofferahn advised Steffen through her project. Stofferahn teaches design for theatre, stage lighting, film, stage technology and scene painting.

Steffen decided she wanted to go into film when she was 17 years old. Starting out as a mass communication major, Steffen's six-year journey as a UW-RF student has offered her a broad range of TV experience, but while working on her first film she decided she that was her first love. "TV was not the creative expression I was looking for, so I became an art major to develop my eye and creativity. Luckily, I ended up falling in love with the mediums of art as well."

Steffen has received a UW-RF College of Arts and Sciences Fund for Excellence Grant to cover submission fees for six film festivals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, California and Arizona. She also will submit her film to the Student Academy Awards, which is the student version of the Oscars. Spike Lee, one of Steffen's favorite directors, won this award in 1983.

Steffen says her future career depends on how well the film is received. One outcome possibility is finding the funding to make her first feature-length film if the short one is warmly received. She plans to write a feature-length screenplay with UW-RF English associate Professor Jenny Brantley during the 2005 spring semester.

Steffen says she hopes to make films that are unique and yet have the capacity to make the audience feel emotion and question their lives and the world around them.
At the premiere Stofferahn will welcome filmgoers and introduce Steffen, who will briefly introduce the film. A reception including question-and-answer with Steffen and cast members will follow the screening.

For more information on Steffen and her film, visit her Web site at


Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:19 Central Daylight Time

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