The Black Glasses Film Festival, Baylor University’s Film and Digital Media division’s annual recognition of student work, hits another festival milestone this Saturday with its 20th anniversary.

The festival recognizes the best student features and shorts of the school year and gives those films a public viewing, most recently at the Waco Hippodrome. To mark its 20th year, the festival will add a commemorative dinner at The Palladium, located across the street from the Hippodrome.

FDM chairman Chris Hansen said the event has grown considerably since its beginning days in the Castellaw Communications Building. “At best, it was a friends and family and department affair,” he said.

Over time, the festival became less of an informal get-together and more like an actual film festival. Tighter screening meant not all student efforts were accepted for showing. Department alumni contributions enabled a $1,000 Best Picture prize with awards for other categories. A move to the Waco Hippodrome also broadened its audience to the greater Waco public.

In the case of short films by then-students Maverick Moore and Brynn Sankey, the festival gave Waco film fans a look at shorts that went on to screenings at the Cannes International Film Festival.

Black Glasses also provides Baylor film students with hands-on experience in film festivals, a major platform for many small and independent professional filmmakers.

“It introduces students to the idea of showing their work and how festivals work,” Hansen said. “There’s something about sitting in an audience with people you don’t know and seeing their reaction to your work.”

Saturday’s 20th anniversary will feature the screening of 17 student shorts, followed by an awards ceremony with awards for Best Film, cinematography and screenplay.

Preceding the festival screenings is a celebratory dinner that will feature a highlight reel of past festival entries and a panel discussion by Baylor film alumni, moderated by film professor Jim Kendrick.

Both the dinner and festival are open to the public, although only the festival is free.