Students exhibit films at Moondance Festival

Nine students and alumni were named semifinalists and finalists in the Moondance International Film Festival.

Michael Stampler’s ’09 film “Castles Made of Sand” and Danielle Strassman’s ’11 film “The Amazing Adventure of Sarah Waters” were semifinalists in the Short Film for Kids category.

Short Films by Kids semifinalists include Sebastian Spader ’08 for his film “1234: A Study of Romance” and Jackson Kroopf ’06 and Michael Lubin ’06 for their film “Books and Cartwheels”.

Harvard-Westlake cleaned out in the Short Films by Kids finals, winning all five spots. The finalists were Evan Hamilton’s ’07 “Broken” and “The Life and Times of Buster Chaplin,” Jessica Lee’s ’08 “Never Again”, Xochi Maberry-Gaulke’s ’12 “The Good, the Bag, and the Ugly” and Zelda Wengrod’s ’13 “The Night in Question.”

“Broken” by Hamilton won the Columbine Award and “Never Again” by Lee won the Dolphin Award.

The Moondance International Film Festival is held each year in Boulder, Colorado at the base of the Rocky Mountains at Chautauqua Park. The first festival was at the end of the summer of 2000.

This is the first year that visual arts teacher Cheri Gaulke entered students in this particular festival. Gaulke had heard of the Moondance festival, but it wasn’t until one of her students, Zelda Wengrod, did some research that she considered submitting works into the Festival.

The submitted films were made by students from the past two or three years since films were not required to be new upon entering. The large range was also due to the fact that none of the films had been seen at the festival before.

When choosing which films to send, Gaulke picked films that had done well in other film festivals.

“I just want to send the best work,” Gaulke said.

Strassman, director and co-writer of the short film, “The Amazing Adventure of Sarah Waters,” made the film at Gaulke’s summer program in 2007.

“It’s about a quirky girl who finds a book that teaches her how to read minds and tries to help people by reading their minds,” Strassman said. “But then it goes bad, and all the good things she’s done have consequences and she has to fix them. It has a happy ending though.”