A still from A Boys Best Friend,
by YSHS senior John Poortinga. The film is one of 24 works that
will be shown at the Sundog Regional Film Festival Saturday, May
10, 2 p.m., at the Little Art Theatre.
film festival for local and area youth
to see names on big screen
Sundance may have Robert Redford, but Sundog has Yellow Springs High School
media arts teacher Melina Elum and 62 young videographers waiting to see
their names on the big screen. But first they hope to see them on the
Little Art Theatres screen this Saturday when the Sundog Regional
Film Festival shows the winning short videos in this years inaugural
The contests public adjudication, which was held last Saturday in
the Yellow Springs High School library, was brimming with technologically
sophisticated work using powerful images to tell stories and elicit emotions.
Boys harassing a flock of Canadian geese in a grocery store parking lot
at night became the focus of Supermarket Fiasco, a hulaballistic
submission by YSHS senior John Poortinga. A whitewashed image of a young
boy running in slow motion away from the screen and from something hurtful,
emotes an unsettling pain in Exit, by McKinney School student
Mori Rothman. Digital manipulation allows Terry Martin, from Stivers School
for the Arts, to frame three consecutive images of an adolescent addict
and visually show the discord created in his life.
Local filmmaker Steven Bognar and two curators from Ohio State Universitys
Wexner Center for the Arts, David Filipi and Jennifer Lange, viewed 61
works by students from Yellow Springs and nine other area high schools.
Between each film, which were five minutes or less, the judges provided
feedback to the young filmmaker wringing his or her hands in nervous anticipation.
Balancing encouraging comments with constructive advice, judges praised
one students abstract piece as evocative stuff with
fantastic images that could have communicated more intentionality
with better editing. The judges responded to a promotional piece for a
school play by saying it displayed an effective use of images but that
the camera work was swimmy and that the narration could be
incorporated more smoothly.
To hear your work judged is a prelude to the real world, and its
painful in a really healthy way, Bognar said after the judging.
Open critique is one of the best ways to grow.
Many of the students came to have their work critiqued and to watch other
It was very helpful having people who really know what theyre
talking about, said Poortinga, who grew up making animated videos
with action figures. He submitted three pieces, the maximum allowed from
one person in the competition.
After a long day of searching through every students film for the
best form and content, the judges picked 24 films that will be screened
for the public Saturday, May 10, at 2 p.m. The award for first place is
$200, second place is $100, and third place nets $75, while six films
will receive a judges award of $50, and the other 15 will receive
honorable mention prizes. The winners will be announced at the screening.
I was really surprised with the overall quality of the things that
were submitted, Filipi said. So many showed a very high level
of skill, it was astounding and really quite a pleasure to watch them.
Part of the competitions goal to raise the bar on the quality of
media production by area youth corresponds with a Raise the Bar technology
grant the McKinney School received in 1999, Elum said. In order to commingle
local talent with area youth interested in communication technology and
to further support the YSHS and McKinney video program, local resident
Kitt Lurie procured a $3,500 grant from the Yellow Springs Endowment for
Education and several local businesses to sponsor a film contest.
The public critique accomplished that end by drawing students from a wide
area to share their creative projects with each other.
Having a contest where kids from different schools are seeing new
and amazing ways to make their work and seeing that its their peers
across town doing it, these are two very important elements, Bognar
said. Thats what this competition is doing, and I saw that
palpably in the room.
The judges also said that they were impressed with and most affected by
the risks the artists took in creating personal films about issues youth
face today. A video dealing with the subject of rape showed a woman dressed
in a prom gown running through dead leaves and falling down in tears just
as a white cotton nightgown floats by, and is lost forever.
But the risk young people seem willing to take in investing in these difficult
projects is in danger of being stifled for lack of public exposure, Bognar
We live in a weird contradictory time where the technology to make
media cheaper enables people to edit their movies at a coffee shop, yet
whats available to us on TV is more and more narrow in its vision,
he said. The potential diversity of this technology is at serious
risk of not getting seen.
Sundog is a move in the opposite direction, and the youth that participate
now may later demand that their voices be heard.
Poortinga for one is already hooked. He plans to major in video or film
production when he goes to college next year. He said that he was drawn
to media arts when he found he didnt have to be able to draw in
order to express himself creatively. He also likes to influence others,
just as leaders do.
Im attracted to try to be able to express my ideas and be
able to affect peoples emotions in a meaningful way, he said.
If Sundog is successful this year, organizers would like to make it an
We might expand it, and well need at least as much funding
as this year, if not more, and we may need a bigger place to show it,