Students win in Westport Youth Film Festival

Student director Zelda Wengrod ’13 won an award in the junior competition at the Westport Youth Film Festival May 10. Six Harvard-Westlake student directors’ films were shown at the film festival, selected from a pool of 250 films made by high school students.

The Westport Youth Film Festival was started six years ago by two high school sophomores who intended to create a professional environment in which films by high school students could be shown. Films are submitted in eight genres: Animation, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Experimental, Facing History and Social Justice, Music, and Public Service Announcement in addition to the WYFF Junior Competition.

After films are selected to be screened, they are sorted by genre and judged by professional jurors. The jurors select one winner from each genre, two local filmmakers, and one from the junior competition.

Winners received an art car designed by Robert Rauschenberg and donated by Tiffany and Co and the winning local filmmakers received $750 of rental equipment.

Wengrod made her film last summer at the Harvard-Westlake film camp with the help of Cheri Gaulke, upper school Visual Arts teacher. Her film, “The Night in Question”, featured “a gum-chewing, Chandler-reading private eye who must solve the mystery of why the children keep disappearing. The joke is the detective is very young looking, but the voice over is very deep.” said Wengrod. After winning at the Newport Beach Film Festival which took place at the beginning of the school year, Wengrod decided to send in her film to various other film festivals including the Westport Youth Film Festival.

Student directors Evan Hamilton ’07, Danielle Strassman ’11, Patrick Hibler ’08, Michael Stampler ’09, and Jessica Lee ’08 had films shown in the festival as well.

“WYFF remains the only festival created by kids and run by kids, to show films by kids.” Said Sandy Lefkowitz, Westport Youth Film Festival Coordinator. “The films are getting better and better as more students are using film to give voice to their thoughts.”