Hanks to headline at school Film Festival

Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks will address an audience of 800 in the Arclight Cinerama Dome at the sixth annual Harvard-Westlake Film Festival March 20.

Films will be submitted from high school students all over California until the January deadline.

Once all films have been submitted, film festival student directors Lauren Bailey ’09 and Jonathan Haile ’09 will watch each film and pick their favorite 40 or 50.

In the past, there have been around 100 submissions, out this year they anticipate significantly more entries.

These finalists will be evaluated by a screening committee, who will pick enough movies to fill one-and-a-half hours of screen time, generally around 13 films.

Professional judges sought out by Bailey and Haile will then award the films for excellence in different categories.

Another difference this year is that the festival will be open to the general public.

Bailey and Haile want members of the school community to get priority in obtaining tickets, which are free, to encourage students to come and support their friends’ achievements.

This year the reception outside the theatre held after the screening will be private, meaning it will only be open to filmmakers, their guests and Harvard-Westlake students.

Performing arts teacher Ted Walch and video arts teacher Cheri Gaulke are the faculty advisers for the festival.

This year, the reception outside the theatre held after screening will only be open to filmmakers, their guests, and to Harvard-Westlake.

Performing Arts teacher Ted Walch and Video Arts teacher Cheri Gaulke are the faculty advisers for the Festival. This year the advisers and student directors were interested in obtaining a high profile speaker to attract a crowd to the much-larger venue.

“Hanks is an inspiration not only as an incredible actor, but as a producer and general good person who works for the betterment of film,” Gaulke said.

Most of Bailey and Haile’s job thus far has consisted of writing letters to schools with video arts programs to encourage the submission of films.

Nick Merril ’09 is working on a new website design for a festival site that is nearing completion.

Haile said the expansion of the venue is indicative of the expansion of the school’s video arts program as a whole.

“Twice as many people means twice as many everything,” Bailey said. “We’ll have to work to organize parking, the reception, advertising, everything.”

Bailey and Haile view the festival as an opportunity for students to learn from and appreciate the talent of people their age.

“It’s so unique—Harvard-Westlake has all these resources and we are so fortunate to be able to share this with other kids in California,” Bailey said. “There are not a lot of festivals of this level for high school kids.”

Haile agreed.

“Kids who come will really get to put a finger on the pulse of artistic filmmaking in California,” Haile said.