The seventh annual Amity Film Festival held some surprises and a few challenges for the three judges this year.
The Festival had its biggest attendance ever with parents, students and filmmakers filling the center seats in the auditorium. The three judges watched from their vantage point, carefully noting the best aspects of each submission.
When a unanimous vote was sought and only two judges agreed on a decision, it was time to talk it out. Once the third judge was able to give a compelling enough argument to convince the other two to change their minds.
This is the second consecutive year that the ninth-grade students have participated in the competition, 15 students worked on the six public service announcement entries.
In the end, Tricia Thompson won the $50 prize with her PSA "Don't Smoke"
Other entries included "PTSD" by Erica Sutton; "Sexting" by Miranda Carpenter, Madeline Leonard, Jenna Schwerdtle and Erica Zimmerman; "Substance Abuse" by Elizabeth Pallman; "Teen Pregnancy" by Kelsey Belmont, Chloe Brinton, Dakota Kelly and Kaitlin Merriam; and "Using Powers Wisely" by Paul Cannata, Matthew Daddio, and Eric Goodman-Styrcula.
The ninth-grade Short Form Films also were varied and entertaining.
The judges appreciated the student's ability to synchronize music with the lip synching actors mouths and the visual affects utilized in another.
When it came time to judge, the winning film was "Kung Fu Fighting" by Austin MacDonald, James Ottaviano, Bubba Pignataro and Josh Schaperow.
Other entries in this category were "A Day in the Life" by Amanda Rossi; "Change" by Lillian Sun and Jennifer Zhu; "Good Times, Bad Times" by Joshua Timpko; "Italy" by Micaela Romei; and "The Time" by Taylor Borruso and Rachel Mason.
10th -12th Grade
One judge noted that the older student's PSAs were different from the freshmens'.
A graphic, but memorable message about the danger of cigarette smoking, called "Cigarette Suicide" (which depicted just that) by Loren Malka won in this category, earning her $100.
Other entries were "A Better Way to Wake Up" by Ryan Cross, Ed Walsh and Matthew Harsche; "Gift" by Jill Sliby and Lauren Tiroletto; and "Key to Life" by Courtney Keating.
There were three documentaries submitted to the competition, each with its merits.
The judges chose "Music In Motion" by Mike Helfenbein.
Other entries were "Club Day" by James Bonvicini; and "Swim Team" by Amanda Demusis.
The Long Form Films included "Case Closed" by Brendan Regan and Nathan Arndt; and "Reality Check" by Andrew Ginzberg and Zach Cohen — a sort of take on the movie "Inception."
The winner was "Case Closed."
This is the first time in seven years that a Short Form Film won the Best in Festival Award.
The choices in this category were all exceptional, but one stood out for its film noir visuals and surprise ending.That was "Little Red Riding Hood" by Sharon Lin.
Sharon won $400 for her work.
The other entries were, "Broken Pencil" by Chris Kelly, Jason Klein, and Belinda Edwards; "Chase" by Frank Sweeney; and "Reminiscence" by Dan Recalde and Martin Forstrom.
The Amity Film Department has grown in popularity in the past 10 years. In the 2010-11 school year 250 students took the course. So far, more than 150 students already have applied for acceptance next year.
Teacher Jonathan Furst said the Department is introducing its own production company that will contract the student filmmakers out to anyone who needs work done. Money from these jobs would go to the Amity Film Department so it can continue to grow with the times and provide the students the equipment they need to learn the trade.
See my non-award-winning video of the award announcements.