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Watching M-A’s 2017 Film Festival Friday night in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) was a very special experience. As it was Memorial Day weekend, it was a smaller crowd of friends and family that gathered together. However, in the warm, dim PAC with its large screen, comfortable chairs, and friendly people, I immediately relaxed and was soon captivated by the 17 movies that followed. Ranging from comedy, to romance, to horror, each movie told its own story with vivid photography, funny lines, and wild characters.

John Giambruno, teacher for Digital Filmmaking and TV Communications & Streaming, said that most films were created by students in those. However, there were a few other M-A students who submitted as well. “We got a lot of solo projects. Everyone had their own vision and ideas,” he said.

The film order was as follows:

“Emily” Director/Editor: J. Guiann Lacbayan Starring: Ryu Frank, Kara Mullarkey, and Eddie Ives

  • “Emily” is a beautiful story about recovering from heartbreak. Many scenes were shot at the beach, in a car, and at a restaurant.

“Gone Fishin’” Director: Matt Cwirla Editor: Sam Shazen Starring: Matt Cwirla, Sam Chazen, and Kris Liang

  • A shorter but captivating comedy/horror film about three friends’ nightmarish fishing trip

“What Einstein Predicted” Directors: Zachary Meyer & Jonathan Kim Editor: Zachary Meyer Starring: Zachary Meyer, Andrew Scott, Cole Hecimovich, Miles Lucas, and Emma Meyer

  • This seven-minute drama film was about four teens fighting against zombie attacks. Its funny characters and dramatic music caused many to laugh out loud.

“High School Life” Directors: Felix Lopez, Marianne Poblete, Saul Resendiz Starring: Chris Cardenas, Eugene Jennings, and Miguel Esparza

  • This quick movie discussed the issues of bullying and drinking while driving. The audience gave it a round of applause.

“Stay” Director/Editor: Eli Goodman Starring: Barbara Chow, Steve Ray, Steve Goodman, Lukas Rash, and Kiana Sales

  • This is a touching bitter-sweet story about an older couple’s relationship gone stale and their creative attempt to rekindle their love. Some scenes were shot in Menlo Park, at M-A, and even in an AP Literature classroom.

“Spellbook” Director/Editor: Kevin Delgado Starring: Holo, Shiki, and Monica

  • “Spellbook” is a comedy/horror film about a family who fights against the evils of trash metal. Delgado, the student filmmaker, used artistic costumes and make-up to demonstrate the power of family, music, and faith.

“Catfished” Director/Editor: Amanda Mihovilovic Starring: Samantha Le, and Amanda Mihovilovic

  • A girl finds “love” on the internet. I was hooked from the start of this clever movie about deception and friendship.

“Boxes” Director/Editor: Evelyn Calhoon Starring: Lauren Calhoon, Louisa Calhoon, Abby Ericson, and Lauren McDonnell

  • A girl struggles to meet her parents’ strict rules on her new driver’s license and curfew. This funny film tells a very relatable story for teens.

“Boy Meets Girls” Director/Editor: Marbella Vargas Starring: Yasmin Kashani, Kennedy Jimenez, Adelina Virelas, Salvador Ruiz, and Daniel Sandoval

  • Being in love is not easy, and this movie dives into the struggles and conflicts of teen relationships.

“One Night in Shanghai” Director: Malcolm Dempsey, Editors: Malcolm Dempsey & Christi Young
Starring: Malcom Dempsey, Christi Young, Kyle Rosa, Sydney Dempsey, Dina Kibrom, Sina Kibrom, and Emil Van Hoff

  • A couple enters a sinister house. This riveting horror movie showcasing an original storyline, costumes, and characters had me gripping my seat.

“Memory Card Full”: Starring: Jenna Philbin and Anys Ramos

  • A teen photographer searches for inspiration and her artistic style. This film uses vivid photography and excellent acting to convey this relatable endeavor.

“Love Story”: Director/Animator: Rosa Kurtz

  • Of all 17 films, this movie was the only animated/stop-motion one.
  • The film shows a girl searching for love and acceptance from a magical tree. It took six weeks and several materials such as cardboard to make it.
  • This is the lesson Kurtz, the director/animator, strived to impart: “I want to show what it’s like to be rejected and how a chage in things can end up positive, ” she said. Kurtz will continue to animate in college next year.

“The Bird” Director/Editor: Logan Wilson Starring: Logan Wilson, Milo Brosamer, Emil Redlinger, and Ben Wilson

  • This movie showcases almost every high schoolers’ fears and pressures for the SAT and from home.
  • Logan Wilson, the director/editor, uses color contrast and “mythical realism” effects. “I put a lot of effort into making my movie, so I am looking forward to seeing how the crowd reacts to it.”
  • One memorable and significant feature in his movie is an ostrich. “The bird is a representation of the character’s fears,” he said.

“Ed and Harry Lose their Sandwiches” Director/Editor: Maya Fors, Starring: Sarah Weindorf, Emma Denend, and Lucy Kuhnen

  • A laugh out loud, lighthearted film about three friends who try to meet a drug money debt

“The Evocation Project” Director/Editor: Teddy Pagee Starring: Teddy Pagee, Chloe Benz, Lena Reibstein, Ethan Stoneham, and Guiana Lacbayan

  • This is a horror movie about a group of M-A students who mysteriously disappear while making their own horror film.
  • Ethan Stoneham, an actor, described the teamwork of making this film: “The best part about acting in these movies was collaborating with everyone. My director was really fun to work with, as were the other actors. It was just really fun to make something together.”
  • The filming took several weeks, and it wasn’t easy. “The hardest part was probably scheduling, just trying to meet up all at the same time. And as for acting, you just try to do the best you can,” he said.

“The Case Reaper” Director/Editor: Chloë Benz Starring: Chloë Benz, Teddy Pagee, Katelyn de Geus, Cat Carvalho, and Ethan Stoneham

  • An entertaining story of two detectives who are forced to work together on a serial killer case
  • Chloë Benz, the director, said she wanted to make a story about friendship and collaboration. “As you can see they don’t get along at first, but they work together to solve the case. I just reallly wantd to make a funny, goofy movie on two people trying to work together.”
  • She loved the experience of being creative with her movie; “It gave me a ot of freedom to do what I wanted. I could make a drama, or I could make a comedy. I could really move some one,” she explained.

“Rift” Director/Editor: Katelyn de Geus Starring: Katelyn de Geu & Liviana Lie

  • With delicacy, director Katelyn de Geus shows how a young girl must turn to her friends and family to overcome obstacles when an injury prevents her from playing volleyball.
  • De Geus herself was inspired to make this film by her own personal experiences. “I was playing volleybal and I tore my ligament. I didn’t think I would be able to play, but I did,” she said.
  • She made this movie for all audiences to enjoy. “I think it really incapsulates friendships and father-daughter relationships,” she said.
  • Liviana Lie, an actress in the film described the filming process for this 12 minute video: “The hardest part was getting through all the shots. You need take a lot of shots multiple times, so you had to redo it, redo it, redo it, and redo it. It’s so long the film process!”
  • However, acting and making a movie was a wonderful experience for Lie. “I enjoy the time I spent with Katie,” she said.

At the end of the performance, Giambruno concluded, “I really liked them [movies]. I thought they were really creative in the horror. And they did soft topics too, which I think is harder to do. The subtle romance, the subtle get over. Every movie got a great reaction.”

To watch the videos from the film festival click here.

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