Westflix hosts first virtual premiere event

Natalie Cosgrove

Westflix members hosted the first virtual Westflix Film Festival for students in Southern California using the virtual screening platforms BingeWave and Zoom on Friday and Saturday.

Golden Globe Award-winning actress Beanie Feldstein ’11 gave a speech about her experiences in the entertainment industry Friday,  and filmmaker and actress Olivia Wilde, who directed the critically acclaimed movie “Booksmart,” hosted a feedback session Saturday. A series of workshops about filmmaking and an awards ceremony for the best overall movies, directors, editors and actors followed the film screenings.  

The event is held every spring but was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Westflix Director of Operations Lucy Ingold ’21 said although the festival was online this year, she was still excited about rewatching the submitted films with other members of the club.

“I have seen these films many times now, but I am excited to show them to the world, and it will be the culmination of hard work from the faculty and student directors,” Ingold said. “We have brought in some really cool speakers like this year with Olivia and Beanie and last year with Spike Jonze, who is an amazing director, and Bo Burnham, who is also really talented. The people that we bring in are astounding. Westflix is very underrated in that not everyone knows about it.”

Students watched the panel moderated by teachers and judges

A panel of judges comprised of Westflix members selected 14  movies from a pool of more than 150  submissions to be shown at the festival. 

The event usually takes place in person at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood. Westflix member Ana Carina Villalona ’22 said that while the shows hosted in the past have generally been grander, the virtual event was still successful. 

“I really enjoyed seeing all the different films and ideas and the creativity that so many students across Los Angeles have,” Villalona said. “Anyone who is just really interested in seeing great films and being a part of judging them should join the club.”

Westflix judge Adison Gamradt ’23 said she initially joined the club to broaden her filmmaking skills and that she has loved working with the people she has met in the program.

“I joined the club because I love film, and I love getting to see other people’s work and their individual forms of creative expression,” Gamradt said. “It’s so inspiring and just getting to watch a variety of films from high school students across California has definitely made me a better filmmaker. I definitely encourage anyone who is interested in Westflix to sign up. It is such a fun experience and getting to see so many cool films by high school students across California can’t be done in any other place.”