By Sylvia Shipman, Assistant Features Editor — It’s not Sundance or Cannes, but Chattanooga is ringing in spring with its very own film festival to be taking place April 6-9 at the Carmike Majestic Theater downtown.

A newcomer to the festival is UTC’s very own Sylvia Zdunek, a Chattanooga native who majored not in film, but in political science.

“I graduated last year with a degree in political science, but filmmaking was always my passion,” Zdunek said. “I kind of realized… it’s now or never. If I don’t at least try to pursue it now, then I will regret it later in life. I don’t want to be old and have a ton of regrets.”

Her short film is called “Pillow Talk Uncovered,” and it’s based around a poor band called Pillow Talk that doesn’t have enough money to buy equipment, so instead they play pillows.

“All you can hear on their records is the thumping of pillows,” Zdunek laughed.

The film is shot in mockumentary style.

“I really like character-driven pieces,” said Zdunek, “and I also think that filming something like a documentary makes everything funnier.”

Her number one inspiration is NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”

“We have a lot of “Parks and Rec” style characters in the film,” said Zdunek. “I love how all of their characters are like people you know, but just with their personalities extremely exaggerated.”

Zdunek made “Pillow Talk Uncovered” her senior year at UTC for fun. Upon encouragement from the Dean of the Honors College Linda Frost, she submitted it to the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Conference that year.

“Having my film featured in NCHC was the validation I needed to pursue my dream,” said Zdunek.

The Chattanooga Film Festival values everything that goes into cinema from the directors to the audience to the popcorn and especially values local filmmakers.

Zdunek’s film is part of the Tennessee Filmmakers Film Block, meaning that buying a ticket for the block will let you see all the films featured under that block.

Some other film blocks that the festival features are Schoolhouse Block, a series of films by students, and WTF (Watch These Films) Block, a series of curated short films based around horror.

A daily wristband is $75 and gives you VIP access to parties, screenings, panels, workshops and special events for that day. A VIP badge for the entire weekend is $250 and includes tickets and priority seating to each film and secret screening. It also includes entry to all comedy performances, parties and VIP-only areas that feature drinks and live performances.

All badges, wristbands and tickets can be purchased online at and can be picked up upon arrival at the Carmike Majestic Theater on Broad Street starting April 6.

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