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Young filmmakers in the spotlight

Trina Ortega
Carbondale correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” One of only two student-run film festivals in the state, the Rocky Mountain Student Filmfest takes place Friday and Saturday and showcases 47 short films from a new generation of filmmakers.

What began as a Basalt High School event eight years ago, the fest has “grown exponentially,” said BHS junior Annie Bielinski, who currently shares the task of heading up the festival with senior Hanna Kelly.

This year, 66 films were submitted, and the committee narrowed the field to the final 47. Last year, there were 47 submissions, 43 of which were screened for the festival.



“The films are really good. There’s a lot of variety,” Bielinski said. “The mission of the film fest is to encourage students to express their creativity through film.”

The festival runs Friday and Saturday, May 11-12, at Glenwood Springs High School auditorium. Screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. with different films showing each night. Admission is $5 at the door.



The festival was expanded this year to allow entries statewide and includes about 15 films from Front Range students. The rest of the submissions were written, filmed, edited and produced by local kids.

Bielinski said other schools and students throughout the state contacted the committee for the Rocky Mountain Filmfest because the event is prestigious among young filmmakers and is run “like a real fest” with cash prizes and accredited judges.

One of the interested schools ” Denver School of the Arts ” has helped this year with publicity and will hold a second screening in Denver for next year’s festival.

“We make it like a real film fest. I think other kids are looking for a more competitive festival,” she said. “Last year, they looked for us. These are people who sought us out.”

The students take the work seriously, meeting every Wednesday during the school year and gaining experience by helping with the Aspen Shorts Fest.

Professional filmmakers and judges from the Aspen fest jury the films, which are required to be under 10 minutes. There are cash prizes for Best of Festival and in each of the six categories: action, drama, comedy, artistic/experimental, documentary, and animation.

Roaring Fork students have been learning about filmmaking in their “Media Empowerment” courses, offered by the New Castle-based nonprofit group Mpower. The classes focus on media literacy and film production using digital video technology, including the advanced Final Cut Pro editing software.

“It’s really cool because we actually get to use professional quality software and cameras. That’s something a lot of high schools don’t have,” said Bielinski, who is excited for the debut of her film, “Stop It.”

“Stop It” is 2 minutes, 30 seconds long and is about two people trying to “out-annoy” each other. “It’s a battle of sounds,” she said, adding that she’s already begun work on her film for next year.

Bielinski’s is one of only two solo productions in the festival. Most are collaborative efforts among students, which she says usually creates a better quality production.

Even if she doesn’t go into filmmaking for a profession, she said she thinks it would be a “cool career.”

“The fest has provided me with a lot of experience,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity. I’m glad it’s happening in Basalt, in such a small town. Next year it’s going to be even bigger and better.”


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