Paly film students “Cinequest to success”

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Three short films produced by Palo Alto High School Video Production students will be screened at Cinequest Film Festival, a Silicon Valley-based event designed to promote creativity and technology.

The three short films accepted into the festival include “Eco-Man,” by senior Jack Brook; “What If You Slept,” by sophomores Alec Cohen-Schisler and Ian Woodfill; and “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” by seniors Alex Merkle-Raymond and Maeve Lavelle. As a part of the high school level competition, these films, along with six other films produced by high school students, will be shown on Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. and March 7 at 11 a.m at the California Theatre in San Jose. Admission is open to the public for a fee, and ticket information can be found on the Cinequest website. The Paly Video Production department also previously debuted the films at the Paly Student Film Festival on Feb. 6.

Cinequest is recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualifier for the Academy Awards. Paly Video Production teacher Brett Griffith encouraged his students to submit their work to Cinequest, as well as several other esteemed film festivals that offer high school-level competitions, including but not limited to the San Franciso International Film Festival and the White House Film Festival.

“It is my goal to help students reach for the best, most prestigious regional film festivals,” Griffith said. “Paly students do amazing work – they ought to be aware of some of the best recognition opportunities.

In addition to getting selected for display at the festival by the Cinequest organization among thousands of other submissions, the films were also personally acknowledged for achievement in film by the Cinequest co-founders Halfdan Hussey and Kathleen Powell, who visited the Media Arts Center at Paly in the fall, according to Griffith. Several films on the Paly video production website also caught their attention.

Sophomore Jack Brook's film entitled "Eco Man" features a superhero that encourages people to engage in ecologically-friendly practices, such as recycling. "Eco Man" is one of the three student films that will be screened at the 2015 Cinequest Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Paly Video Production.

Senior  Jack Brook’s film entitled “Eco Man” features a superhero that encourages people to engage in ecologically-friendly practices, such as recycling. “Eco Man” is one of the three student films that will be screened at the 2015 Cinequest Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Paly Video Production.

Brook’s film, “Eco Man,” offers commentary on contemporary ecological issues. “Eco Man” was well-recieved at several other festivals in addition to Cinequest, including the DC Independent Film Festival, Delta Moon Student Film Festival and Greenlight Film Festival. After making several revisions to the film and audio, Brook submitted it to Cinequest last fall.

“It was short, the audio was good and it was funny, but it also had an environmental message,” Brook said. “I think that’s why it got into Cinequest.”

Woodfill, co-creator of “What If You Slept,” notes a sense of pride upon selection into Cinequest.

“It feels really good to be accepted into such a prestigious festival,” Woodfill said.

Griffith also noted the overall importance of filmmaking for young students.

“Through practice, students discover how fun it is to have a vision and put it out there start to finish,” Griffith said. “Students have powerful visions and voices.”