SILVER SPRING – The work of students from elementary, middle and high schools in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) made it to the big screen on April 20, as more than 500 students participated in the 4th Annual PGCPS Film Festival. The festival, held at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, […]
SILVER SPRING – The work of students from elementary, middle and high schools in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) made it to the big screen on April 20, as more than 500 students participated in the 4th Annual PGCPS Film Festival.
The festival, held at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, was a celebration of student film work. In total, 78 films were submitted for consideration of awards and recognition; of those, three were selected from each category for viewing. Winners were selected by the people’s choice through a viewing party, online voting and professional judging.
Anita Lambert, coordinating supervisor for creative arts programs, said this film festival started four years ago because she saw a need to showcase the creative talents of students in another way.
“Some disciplines have been well established. They have been established since time began, but as we look to our newer technologies and the art and science of media and design and creativity, it is just an opportunity to showcase the creative spirit of our students at another venue in another way,” she said.
She said it is extremely important to foster a community amongst students where they can express themselves and learn from each other. She said she is always glad to see students supporting each other.
“We had five or six schools that were here today that did not win anything, not a third or second place, and they were celebrating with all of the other students,” she said. “And I think that is something our society needs and it’s a skill set that will carry our students far in regards to what they choose to do in life.”
John Ceschini, the arts integration officer at PGCPS, said the film festival is also a great way to give recognition to the students and teachers who spent a great deal of time on their films and to recognize the talents of students.
“It is very prestigious. These kids have made small-screen videos that are now going to be recognized and are going to be on the big screen. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them,” he said.
Ceschini said there is a great level of excellence in Prince George’s County and he was “very impressed with many of the films” created by the students.
“Keep in mind we have from the beginning level, like elementary school, all the way up to high school. So, it varies on the quality of the films, but they are all the best that our students could do with the knowledge they had and some of them are really fantastic films,” Ceschini said.
Categories ranged from public service announcements to an under-a-minute challenge and from documentaries to silent films. Winners at the film festival included Laurel High School, Central High School, Bowie High School, Oxon Hill High School, Hyattsville Middle School, Kettering Middle School and James H. Harrison Elementary School.
Abigail Ortaleza and Anthony Newhouse are both 12-year-old students at James H. Harrison Elementary School. The two won multiple awards for their films in the 48-Hour Challenge and the feature category, specifically for their film “Choices.”
They started filming in February after using January to plan. The entire project took them three weeks to put together.
“It felt very surprising,” Ortaleza said.
“We didn’t know we were going to win,” Newhouse added.
Ariana Dabner, a seventh grader at Kettering Middle School, was also surprised she won. She said her group put a lot of work into their silent film “The Study Group,” which was about a murderous doll.
Dabner directed the film and said she did a lot to make sure the story, created by her friends, was believable and scary. She said it meant a lot to see her work up on the big screen and to watch people enjoy their hard work.
“I felt accomplished. I feel like I actually did something I really love to do and I put all my time to work into it. I think the cast and everybody who’s in the video did so much work and tried so hard and it really made me happy that everyone got to see it,” she said.
“The Study Group” won a grand award where it beat out films created by other middle school and high school students.
However, films created by high school students stole the show as Oxon Hill High took home three grand prize awards for their PSA titled “Don’t Press Send,” and Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr., Central, Bowie and Laurel high schools each took home grand prize awards.
Steffanie Caison and Myles Loftin created “Don’t Press Send” and are both seniors at Oxon Hill. Caison created the initial idea for the film, which is a PSA warning girls of the dangers of nude selfies, which are technically child pornography if those pictured are under 18.
“It’s not just about emotions, it is about the law,” Caison said. “That why at the end we spoke with the corporal because it is illegal as a child to distribute child pornographic materials.”
With three trophies in hand, Loftin said he was nervous to show the film to his peers at the film festival, but said he was glad to see how people interpreted his work.
“To have the support of everyone and to notice that what you made was good and to actually win and be commended for something you put a lot of work into, it just feels wonderful,” Caison said.