Local teens will take on the big screen in AU’s Discover the World of Communication film festival
The event gives filmmakers an opportunity to show their work on April 20
After seeing other universities host film festivals for teens, School of Communication alumna Rebecca Castaneda was eager to host a similar event at American University. She and other festival organizers were looking for a few key elements during the submission process.
“Does it tell a story? Is there a basic knowledge of camerawork and editing styles?” Castaneda said. “We're just trying to see are the basic principles of what makes a film there.”
The Discover the World of Communication program will hold the film festival for middle and high school students in the Doyle Forman Theater on April 20 at 7 p.m.
Discover the World of Communication is an AU summer program that offers various communications courses to high school students. The film festival gives participants a platform to showcase their creativity, technical skills and storytelling ability.
Since the festival was confirmed in November, the program has received 125 submission spanning categories focused on environmental and social justice films and documentary and narrative shorts.
Rebecca Castaneda, one of the coordinators of the event, said that they chose those categories based on courses offered in the Discover the World of Communications program, including those based on script writing, video production and documentary. What they got was a diverse selection that featured a wide range of content and style.
“There's a lot about gun control,” Casteneda said. “There was a lot about race, which was really important to see because they use this as a way to say, ‘Hey, this is what I feel, what I believe.’ Sometimes it's easier than writing a paper, easier than reading a book. So being able to have access to film as a tool is really important.”
The contestant with the “best overall video” will receive an $800 scholarship to take one class through the Discover the World of Communication program. Although only one contestant will win, Castaneda said she believes it will be a valuable experience for all who participate.
“Everybody has the ability to make a film,” she said. “Maybe they don’t know how with the actual camera, but everybody has a cell phone and everybody has the ability to make something.”
Many of the festival’s submissions reflect a trend of using smartphones to create films.
“There are definitely some kids who submitted who made stuff on [cell phones], and other kids [who] definitely made it on cameras. There's no difference,” she said. “They still are taking a medium of which they are being able to tell their stories, which are great.”
Castaneda said she recognizes that these films may be the young filmmakers’ first pieces subject to criticism. While she and the other film coordinators will look to see how basic principles of filmmaking are used, they don’t expect perfection, she said.
The Discover the World of Communication Film Festival will take place on April 20 at 7 p.m. in the Doyle Forman Theater.