Next Stop: Sundance
The next generation of Scorceses and Spielbergs will focus their lenses on something positive on April 28 when the Greenwich Youth Film Festival premieres at the Greenwich Library.
The credits haven’t rolled yet, but already this inaugural film showcase for students has far exceeded the expectations of its founding sponsor, the Junior League of Greenwich, producing 130 entries from teen filmmakers from Fairfield and Westchester counties.
“We were told by people experienced doing youth film festivals, not to have high hopes for the first year. We were, quite honestly, crossing our fingers for twenty-five films,” says Ginger Stickel, who is chairing the festival on behalf of the JLG.
But with marquee Greenwich names such as director Ron Howard, producer Clayton Pecorin, musician Jeff Cardoni, Blue Sky Studios and Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson on the judging panel it’s no surprise that the contest elicited a blockbuster response. The free and open-to-the-public festival kicks off with the screening of top-nominated films. (The contestants have been instructed to keep it brief with no entry longer than seven minutes.) The movies will be followed by an awards ceremony giving out $4,000 in cash prizes and a panel discussion led by local film industry leaders. (The panel was yet to be determined at press time, but expect to be impressed.)
“I think one of the things we realized from working on this project is that there really is a vibrant film community right here in town and it’s been exciting to tap into that,” says Ginger. “Teenagers have so much access to media and technology these days, but it’s not always put to the best use. We wanted to get behind something that encouraged our teens to use that technology to create art.” Although the JLG studied the successes of several acclaimed teen film competitions, including Westport’s well-regarded annual festival, “We don’t want this to be that prestigious film festival. There’s a place for that, but our goal is just to get our kids involved in something positive.”
“What we would really love to see is a novice enter who has some creative flair and they get inspired by this to do more,” says Ginger. Then, maybe they can thank their agents, the Academy and the JLG.
—Beth Cooney Fitzpatrick