Aspen High School students get edgy at 5Point Film Festival

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Courtesy of Prime Light Media"On an Edge," a short film by Aspen High students Ross Pingatore, Arthur Kelso and Wyatt Young, will show Thursday at the 5Points Film Festival in Carbondale.

ASPEN – “Broken” – the first film by Aspen High School students Ross Pingatore, Arthur Kelso and Wyatt Young – is raw and gritty. It’s about suicide, and it cuts to the chase. The short film is so filled with stark emotion – the despair so many teenagers share – that it makes the viewer cringe at times.

“Broken” is not the stuff of the 5Point Film Festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday in Carbondale. Or is it?

According to the 5Point website, “We are an adventure film festival pushing the boundaries of the genre.”

Still, a biting film about suicide pushed those boundaries a bit too far. But the question had been raised: What could these three talented young filmmakers create that would meet the festival’s five guiding principles: respect, commitment, humility, purpose and balance?

“We saw they were worthy, that they could make something great for the big screen,” said 5Point executive director Sarah Wood.

The trio delivered. “On an Edge,” which screens in the festival’s opening program Thursday, seamlessly combines the edginess of “Broken” with the adrenaline of sport, in this case hockey – and in just seven minutes it delivers a message that meets the festival’s guiding principles while resonating with its audience.

“I think this film describes what a lot of us feel, that sense of putting everything else aside and just focusing on something you’re passionate about,” said Pingatore, an Aspen High School sophomore who started tinkering with filmmaking when still photography became “kind of repetitive.” “Of course hockey isn’t a common topic at 5Point; it’s usually more about rock climbing and that type of adventure sport.”

But as the film’s promo material – distributed by the company that Pingatore, Kelso and Young founded, Prime Light Media – states, “To those who play it, hockey is more than just a game. And for a dedicated group of high school students, hockey is a way of life both in body and in mind.”

In fact, Pingatore and Kelso play hockey for the local high school team. Pingatore – who was the filmmaker, editor director and did the voice-over for “On an Edge” – does not shy away from what the sport has done for him, physically and mentally.

“When I was really depressed, what I would do is go out on the pond and skate,” he said. “I think with this film, we wanted to look into that a little more, how it made us feel to just skate.”

It’s a message he thinks needs to be shared and one he thinks bridges the gap between a gut-checking film like “Broken” and the more adrenaline-fueled films that fill the big screen today.

“I think this has a meaningful message,” Pingatore said, “and I hope it’s one a lot of people can relate to.

“We’ve showed it to a lot of people, and they all sort of say, ‘Yeah, I get that.'”

Don’t expect teenage angst or hockey films to be the end for Prime Light Media or Pingatore, however. Plans are in the works for Prime Light Media to film a movie about a person stranded on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and this summer, Pingatore will shoot a film for a family friend in Australia about fly-fishing and then travel to Bangkok to shoot a documentary for Teachers Across Borders in Southeast Asia.

“Filmmaking gives me a kind of peace of mind,” he said. “It offers me a place to go when things are so chaotic around me and in my mind.”


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