2019 MFF: Emerging Filmmaker Competition gives students chance to shine
Emerging Filmmaker Competition
Saturday, May 11, 11 a.m.
The Wellmont Theater,
5 Seymour St.
This program is presented by Gelotti.
Gelotti will provide EFC ticket holders with a coupon for one free junior size scoop of ice cream or Italian ice at the screening.
By ERIN ROLL
Zombie cookies, cell phones that never let you go, an eerie tale of late-night pizza deliveries and the nature of dreams, and a narrative about Montclair’s South End.
These are among the winning films in the Montclair Film Festival’s Emerging Filmmaker Competition for middle and high school students, and which will be getting their premiere at Montclair Film Fesitval the Wellmont Theater this weekend.
The competition for student filmmakers gave out awards for documentary, narrative, social impact, and cinematography. The winners included 31 students from across northern New Jersey.
There are two categories: Storytellers, for students in grades six through eight, and Visionaries, for students high school. In previous years, there was Cinemaniacs, for students in fourth through sixth grade, but that category has since been eliminated. The competition has been part of the film festival since 2011.
Four films created by Montclair students won for social impact, narrative, cinematography, and documentary.
Awards were given out to three middle school students and 28 high school students for 16 films.
Lucy Osterberg, Jacob Frye, Elias Lewin and Aidan Champeau are among Montclair’s young filmmaking talent. All four were among the winners of the Emerging Filmmakers competition for 2019. Osterberg and Champeau are returning winners, while Frye and Lewin are newcomers to the competition. Champeau, a senior at Montclair High School, won in the Visionaries category, and the other three students won in the Storytellers category.
“Storyhole” is a collaboration between Champeau, Jake Weinberg, Petra Fox, Jake Diamond, and Jacob Manthey. The film took the special jury prize for cinematography in the Visionaries category. All five students share the award.
The film opens with a delivery driver arriving at Da Vinci’s Pizza on Bellevue Avenue for a late-night shift, and he arrives to find a boy, who he has never met before and yet somehow has seen before.
“Dreams are the body’s way of telling us what to look for. The pulling of stories from the back of our head to the front,” the boy says.
BAKING FOR ZOMBIES
Last year, Osterberg won an award for her documentary film on the Women’s March.
This year, Osterberg switched gears to comedy and horror with “Baking for Zombies, which won the grand prize for narrative in the Storytellers division. The film begins with a girl, played by Osterberg herself, baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies. She reaches into the cabinet for what she thinks is a can of baking powder, but it instead contains a kind of zombie-fying powder. After they eat the cookies, her friends claw at the back door.
“I love to bake, it’s one of my passions,” Osterberg, a seventh-grader at Renaissance. And she had just taken a class through the Montclair Film Festival on how to do zombie makeup when she began. She had some help shooting from her brother and father. And for one of the shots, she put a Go-Pro camera — a small camera used for action shots or to film from hard-to-reach places — in the oven. And the four zombies? Two of them were her brother’s friends, and the other two had taken the zombie makeup class with her.
Osterberg wants to leave the viewer with a question. “Did the baker accidentally poison her friends, or did she do it on purpose?”
She wasn’t expecting the film to place in the competition. “I was so excited when we found out,” she said.
SOUTH END GOING SOUTH
Frye’s entry, “South End Going South,” seeks to counter the perception that many people have of Montclair’s South End, where Frye lives with his family - and which his family has called home for 100 years.
The film took the grand prize for documentary in its category for the Emerging Filmmakers Competition.
Frye, a seventh-grader at Glenfield, decided to make the film based on something that happened after school at Glenfield one day. A large group of students decided to walk up Bloomfield Avenue to hang out on Church Street. But as Frye was waiting on the street corner for a friend, he saw a group of white students turn and walk along the north side of Bloomfield Avenue. Frye asked his friend where the group of white students was going, and he was surprised, and troubled, to hear that they were going to Church Street as well.
It was a moment that stuck in Frye’s mind. And when he heard about the film festival, he decided it would be a good opportunity to bring attention to what people think of the South End.
The film includes a montage of headlines and social media posts decrying the South End as a dangerous, violent place.
But then, the film shifts to a description of the South End as a place that is home to middle-class African American homes and families, with family photos from over the decades superimposed against a background of trees and houses. Frye’s own family has called the South End home for 100 years, the film notes. “The South End was their community. The South End is my community,” Frye narrates.
“This is what you’re scared of?” the film asks at the very end.
Frye and his father, Damion Frye, drove around the South End, filming footage out of the car window to make the film.
Frye hopes people will at least think about their own perceptions and biases about the South End when they go see the film.
“My goal is for them to be able to look at how they feel about the South End,” Frye said.
A STORY OF A PHONE
Like Frye, Lewin is competing for the first time. “I couldn’t wait to join,” Lewin said of the competition. As a sixth-grader at Glenfield, this year was the first year that Lewin was eligible to compete. He has had a long interest in film, and took classes through the Montclair Film Festival’s summer camp to learn more about shooting and editing.
Lewin’s tale, “Glitch,” is the story of a boy who finds himself increasingly attached to his phone, to the point that he finds himself becoming terrified by it. And the phone seems to mysteriously follow him, even if he has left it on his night table and closed the door behind him.
The tone of the film gradually becomes more and more unsettling, until the boundaries between what is real and what isn’t real become hopelessly blurred.
The film took the grand prize for social impact in the Visionaries category.
Last year, he found himself experimenting with short film clips, mostly revolving around a boy who suffered consequences for being on his phone. Lewin decided to expand the concept and make it more of a social impact statement.
He intends to enter the competition again next year, and will be taking the film camp’s cinematography class.
“We’re so excited to honor these wonderful emerging filmmakers at our Red Carpet Ceremony, and we invite everyone to join the celebration as we screen the winning films at the Wellmont Theater on Saturday, May 11,” Montclair Film Education Director Sue Hollenberg said in a release.
With an array of genres from comedy to science fiction to suspense, Saturday’s Emerging Filmmakers Competition will have something that appeals to everyone.