Second Annual WAHS Film Festival Attracts More Entries

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By Connor Andrews

Western Albemarle High School hosted the Second Annual WAHS Film Festival April 27 and “A Dream’s End” by Tilden Lexa and Aaron Cole took top honors.

Each short film was student-produced and based on this festival’s theme, “The End.” The festival aired nine films to the audience and a panel of three judges including Patty Anderson, a former English teacher at WAHS, and two media-studies professors, Hector Amaya and Jennifer Petersen. When making their decisions, the judges looked for each film’s relation to the theme, creativity, cinematography, and overall quality.

Of the nine films, eight were up for the grand prize. Josh Mandell, the student organizer of the festival, entered his own film with the intention of not competing in the contest. Mandell and Caitlin Pitts, a drama teacher at WAHS, announced the Film Festival in February.

“In early February, I met with Ms. Pitts and a couple of other students, such as John Barnes and Rachel Martinez, to talk about what the theme of the festival would be,” said Mandell, “I think it was Rachel’s idea to choose “the end,” she was inspired by the Mayan Apocalypse idea of 2012. As a senior where I’m reaching the end of high school, it sort of resonated with me too.”

After the festival was announced, the students were given a couple of months to produce and edit their short films. By mid-April every film that had been submitted was reviewed by the organizers and accepted for screening.

“We have several films that are quite solid and I think that if just one of them inspires the audience or moves them in some way, then it is a successful festival,” said Mandell.

Mandell started the film festival last year as a project through the Leadership class at WAHS. At this time, there was a lot of student interest in competing in the festival, but not as many groups as were expected ended up entering a short film. “Last year, it wasn’t that much of a success. We had a good film, but we didn’t really get enough content for it to be a good festival,” said Mandell. That changed this year with the submission of nine films.

“Having Ms. Pitts, and the support of the Drama Department has made it a lot easier and a lot more fun, and I think that will help us,” said Mandell, “Last year’s [film festival] was good practice, but this year, we’re a lot better prepared.”