Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ballard High School Filmmakers Featured at National Festival

Five short films by students in the Ballard High School Video Production Program have been named Official Selections of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY). The festival opens at the Seattle Cinerama Theater on Friday, April 24 and continues through Sunday at the Seattle Center. It features 113 films by young filmmakers from 20 states and 8 countries.

The honored Ballard films are Brotherly Love by Colin Colebrook, Devon Rensberger & Mohamed Kassim; Domestic Disturbance by Justin Amorratanasuchad, Lilah Horwitz & Colin Colebrook; Ladies in Armor by Sami Kubo, Diana Federighi & Audra McCafferty; Left Side by Esther Magasis, Andy Tran & Ryan Zemke; and Unplugged by Diana Federighi, Del Brummet & Kaelan Gilman. (Between them, these shorts have previously been honored by the Westport Youth Film Festival, the Young People’s Film & Video Festival, the Derek Freese High School Film & Video Festival, and the Images of Youth Video Festival.)

NFFTY itself is the brainchild of Ballard High School video alumnus Jesse Harris (’04). Harris made history in 2004 when Living Life, the feature film he had written and directed as a senior project, was purchased by FilmMates and given a theatrical release. (It opened in Seattle in April, 2005.) A growing list of sponsors and partners, such as Volvo and the socially conscious production company Take Part, have paved the way for this second annual event.

Jesse’s music video Alarm Bell City will be screened during the festival. Virgin America hired Jesse to produce the video for the band Apple War, the winner of VA’s “Battle of the Bands” competition. Other Ballard video alumni with work at NFFTY are George Westberg (’06) and Coburn Erskine (’08). Westberg’s short comedy Time Keeps on Skippin’ explores the darker side of punctuality, while Erskine’s A Short Film by Jesus Inc. is a cautionary tale of college roommates.

Last year Ballard High School video students won the Audience Choice Award for Best High School Filmmaker as well as the Jury Prize for Best Experimental Film (selected by a panel of industry professionals). However, like the Sundance Film Festival, NFFTY includes forums on filmmaking in addition to screenings and awards. “The Filmmaker as Dealmaker”, “The Social Value of Filmmaking” and “The Power of Music in Film” are several current examples. Admission to these forums is free of charge if you have a festival pass. For a complete schedule of events, show times, and ticket information, visit www.nffty.org.