Elliot, senior Dennis Kim’s hand-drawn elephant, stole the hearts of the crowd gathered in Armstrong-Hipkins the night of April 17th at Blair’s 5th annual Student Film Festival. At perhaps the most poignant moment of the evening, a collective empathetic sigh was heard above Luke Ciancarelli’s delicate piano score as Elliot’s story took a turn. Elliot was the last of six films screened, and it was recognized with two awards: Best Picture, and Original Score. Also credited were Mr. Brandwood for narration, and Lukas Dong for sound engineering.
Bookended by award winners, the evening began with senior Sophia Elghanayan’s untitled short film which won Honorable Mention. The narrator, senior Natalie Pearson, took the audience on a visually enthralling tour of the main character’s personality, or perhaps a montage of personas, often beginning with “I believe…” or “I am a person who…” At one point, the female narrator stated, “I know that everyone has a story” – a great way to begin an evening of storytelling through film.
Senior Dan Becker took the award for Best Documentary with his film entitled Behind the Beauty of Cars in which he documented the building of his Factory Five MK4 Roadster from its humble beginnings in 19 boxes to its humming engine carrying the sleek red sportster down a country lane. Confronted with the daunting task of making thousands of parts come together in one finely tuned machine, Becker pulled together his resources: namely his father, a faithful friend, a sense of humor, and a positive outlook. He knew that “no matter what, you will get to the end product,” timely advice for an audience nearing the end of spring semester, and for some the end of high school.
Reacting to a brilliant bit of comedy, viewers howled with laughter at the alternate worlds conjured up by junior Michael Iacono in Meanwhile, in a Parallel Universe. Had there been an award for eliciting the most robust outburst of laughter, it would have gone to the parallel universe in which North Korea had taken control of the United States.
Sophomore Rachel Kim provided some big laughs as well with her animated short Blair Acatemy, in which she took audio clips of some of Blair’s most iconic voices and laid them over hand-drawn animated felines to great effect. Everyone in the crowd happily followed Rachel on a journey through her classes, recognizing not only the voices, but the situations and sentiments as well.
True to form, freshman Savannah Doelfel danced enthusiastically through her film festival entry, Can I Have This Dance. Undeterred by the steady stream of perplexed and resistant naysayers, the main character finally found willing partners to match the exuberance invoked by Doelfel’s short film.
Senior Malcolm Biggins came away from the event saying that he wished it had been more broadly advertised so that more community members would have witnessed “this incredible outlet for creativity.” Junior Sophia Lobo agreed that the event should not be missed, saying that it is “something I look forward to every year.” Art teacher Mrs. Sykes had this to say, “I appreciated the variety of the work as well as the willingness of the artists to allow us into their world and share a bit of themselves.”
Director of Video Studies, Ms. Yuen said that the annual film festival, which she started five years ago, has “a kind of presence you get when people gather to watch a film; it is something that just isn’t there when you look at videos on YouTube or Vimeo.” As an “important platform for student work,” the Blair Community should look forward to next year’s film festival.
(Copyright Joyce Lang 2015)