Second-Ever Class Film Premieres

April 29, 2008 — Attempting to memorialize and reflect upon the University of Virginia experience for a class of more than 3,000 students will always be a challenge, whatever medium is used — pictures, writing, music, video, painting or anything else. Doing so as pioneer makers of a class film, unable to find similar films from other schools to use as models, made the task that much harder. Nonetheless, the 2008 class film premiered on April 25 and April 28, drawing over 100 students to Friday's screening in the Newcomb Hall Theater.

"I liked it, but it made me really sad because it's starting to sink in that we're graduating," said fourth-year commerce student Katie Chapin. "I knew a lot of the people in the film, so it was nice to see everyone on camera ... [including] people on my hall first year that I haven't even seen since then."

"It's interesting to look back as a first-year," said Christina Rathburn, who plans to double major in foreign affairs and history. "I'm probably never going to join a sorority, so to get that Greek perspective was different."

This year's film built on the efforts of last year's first-ever U.Va. class film, and the evolutionary process was evident. This time around, students can already purchase DVD copies of the film for $20, and DVDs will be on sale at the two encore screenings on May 17, during Finals Weekend. The DVDs are also available anytime from the U.Va. Bookstore and on its Web site ( or online at

Fourth-year Gretel Truong, who was heavily involved in last year's film, led this year's effort as the film's director and executive producer. Her crew of about 15 students shot about 10 hours of footage this year, and also drew from last year's nine hours of footage.  This pool of footage will keep growing each year, with the class of 2010 being the first to have access to footage from all four of their years here.

Like last year, the production of the film was accomplished in the Digital Media Lab in Clemons Library, with help from lab director Jama Coartney. Truong and her collaborators shot more than 40 sit-down interviews and filmed at least 40 events throughout the school year, she noted. They also put together a soundtrack using original music by bands with Charlottesville ties and by fourth-year Will Anderson of the band Sparky's Flaw. And this year, for the first time, the filmmakers earned class credit for their project under the supervision of media studies professor Johanna Drucker.

The finished film runs for 25 minutes, and includes clips from many of U.Va.'s hallowed traditions, like studying in Alderman Library's reading rooms and watching Wahoo basketball and football, along with plenty of rapping about life while sitting in rocking chairs on the Lawn — possibly the most venerable of all U.Va.'s traditions.

Encore screenings

Saturday, May 17, 2 p.m. (right after Valedictory Exercises), Wilson 402 auditorium
Saturday, May 17, 7 p.m., Alumni Hall

— By Brevy Cannon