A look behind Sharon teen who screens impact story in just minutes
UPDATED, Oct. 28: In the late 1950s, when he was 12 years old, Steven Spielberg directed his first "hit" -- a home movie of a train wreck involving his toy Lionel trains. He progressed to "Jaws," "Schlindler's List" and much more.
These days, some teenage filmmakers veer toward, as this MTV report calls it, films that aim to save the planet. Find out about them here >>
In recognition of the variety of work by young movie makers, the seventh annual Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) is honoring five films among 20 to be shown in a program called "Voices of Our Youth."
After screenings that begin at noon Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Capitol Theatre, a reception was held at the Fox Library. Supporting the event are three local websites -- YourArlington, InsideMedford and Cambridge Day.
One of the five honored films is "Roll Call," chosen Best Festival Short. In just 10 minutes, Director Ben Reingold, 17, tells the story of Danielle Jacobson, a young girl in a wheelchair who auditions for an a capella group. She joins the singers because her voice outshines the others', but her wheelchair causes concern and frustration with the other members in the group.
The Sharon High School senior, who made the film when he was 16, said the idea came from a freshman-year health class. "The teacher told all these stories and showed a bunch of videos about physically challenged individuals who were treated unfairly, but it seemed as though all the stories told and videos watched had sad endings -- leading to depression, suicide and mental-health issues.
"I thought, 'What if there was a meaningful ending, where people learn to embrace disabilities, instead of hate them?' I wrote up a script, listing every little detail I wanted in the film. I made short lists, set up auditions and planned immensely for the project ahead."
Thus, on the night of the performance, Jacobson, the main character, comes out on stage to sing a solo, and partway through the song, all of the other members of the group come onstage to join her.
You will have to attend the festival and watch the short to see the full impact of the finale.
Believes events could occur
Reingold added that the story portrayed in his film could have happened. "People are so unaware of things that don't apply to them, and 'Roll Call' opens eyes on this issue while connecting with audiences," he said.
"I am the type of person who wants to raise awareness, to make people feel something through my films and to maybe make someone stop and think before they comment or judge someone who may be different. That is why I love what I do; I have the opportunity to connect with so many people on so many different levels, whether you personally relate to the story, or you just enjoy watching."
The "Roll Call," in its young life, has already had an impact.
The short, which premiered earlier, has been selected for 10 film festivals, taking top honors at two. Apart from Arlington, it was a first-place winner at the Hockomock Film Festival, in North Easton.
Reingold began making films when he was 12, but his first real effort was a short public-service announcement about texting and driving called "It's Your Life," which he made in April 2016. It was selected for eight film festivals, taking top prizes in two of them.
He says he expects his love of filmmaking to continue, leading to a career in both college and after, making many kinds of movies, including TV shows.
His father, Matt, has been an inspiration. He works in marketing with a focus on printing and promotional products. In his personal life, he volunteers as the co-president of the Un-Common Theatre Company.
"Whenever I get an idea or start a script, he is always pushing me to get it done, adding thoughtful insight," he said. "In both of the films I have made, he has been a huge help with literally everything you can think of, and I am very thankful to have a dad as willing and motivated to push his son to greatness."
Influences? One of his favorite films is "Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope." This film is undoubtedly one of George Lucas' most difficult to make.
"I recently watched a documentary about the making of this film, and it opened my eyes in seeing how complicated it was for Lucas to combine technology with his story," he said. "Even with these challenges, Lucas never gave up. He had a vision of what he wanted, and he let nothing get in his way. In the end, he overcame his challenges and directed one of the most famous films in movie history.
"I am inspired by George Lucas, and I strive to overcome obstacles that I run into. It is vital to be prepared for anything. Even when you think you have nowhere to go, you can always find the answers. Lucas has shown the best of himself through his art, and I hope my films have that effect on people one day as well."
Winners, official selections for 2017 high school student program
Here is a listing of the student films, with those winning awards highlighted in red:
Journey | Radheya Jegatheva | 8 min | Narrative/animation | 2016 | Australia | U.S. premiere
Two astronauts lost in space, become star-crossed lovers and together set-off on an epic journey to “find home”. (Astronauts and space imaginary edited and animated from NASA image archive.)
Freerunner | Michael Escobar | 4 min | Documentary | 2016 | Raw Arts Works | Lynn, MA
A boy struggles with depression, and his only way to fight it is to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible.
Think About It | Jade Yilmazoglu | 1 min | Narrative | 2017 | Netherlands | World premiere
A commentary on the disconnect of accepting refugees seen through the eyes of teenagers.
Circus Klown | Karson Monger | 3 min | Animation | 2016 | Light House Studio | Charlottesville, VA, World premiere
Hand drawn animation depicting a circus leader attempting to work with a group of clumsy clowns.
Best Narrative Short Rosa | Roni Polsgrove | 12 min | Doc | 2017 | ICA | Boston
With Charles, the snobby leader of the male-dominated robotics team, and Nancy, the mother who she cannot connect with, Rosa struggles to follow her passion for science.
Roulette | Jonathan Vogel | 3 min | Experimental | 2017 | Arlington | World premiere
A man finds himself in an unknown location face to face with another. A nonconsensual game of Russian Roulette ensues while the victim searches for a way to escape.
Junior | Lucy Bent | 5 min | Documentary | 2017 | CCTV Youth Media Program | Cambridge MA
Local dancer and choreographer, Junior Cius talks about his motivations as an artist. Created as part of a series of video profiles focusing on young entrepreneurs and community leaders from Cambridge.
After Freddie Gray: What Now? | Victor Able, Tayvon Cole, Katia Crawford, William Mitchell, Niajea Randolph, and Kailah Hall, Directors | 10 min | Documentary | 2016 | Wide Angle Youth Media | Baltimore
An exploration into the uprising in response to Freddie Gray's death and its impact on youth. Hear from different voices about what is being done in Baltimore in the aftermath to provide support.
Best Narrative Short Loop | Stephen Gentry, Ryan Beard & Eli Hall | 7 min | Narrative | 2016 | Light House Studio Charlottesville, VA | World premiere
Exploration of the near future when virtual reality machines have been banned, spawning a dangerous and alluring black market.
Dear Mom and Dad | Jelina Liu | 2 min | Narrative | 2017 | Bay Area Video Coalition | San Francisco
A girl apologizes to her parents for losing herself and makes a promise to reconnect with her roots.
Special recognition #WhatPianoDistrict | Annmarie Soba | 8 min | Documentary | 2016 | Maysles Doc Center | NYC | World premiere
A teenage girl reacts in outrage as her South Bronx neighborhood begins the process of gentrification.
Soul Mates | Jack Charles and Beatrice Jackson | 4 min | Documentary | 2017 | ICA | Boston
A romantic comedy with shoes!
Bronx-Based | Jaidey Alvarez | 17 min | Documentary | 2016 | Maysles Doc Center | NYC | World premiere
A portrait of a young creative seeking inspiration in the most artistically deprived borough in New York City, the Bronx.
Love, your daughter | Elaine Li | 2 min | Narrative | 2017 | Bay Area Video Coalition | San Francisco
A Chinese-American girl learns to balance the pressures of having immigrant parents with high expectations with her own personal goals.
What Are Your Desires? | Jose Cana | 4 min | Experimental | 2016 | Florida Film Institute | Miami
The human desire to connect, to be included, can come in the simplest of forms…water!
Germ | Ryan Beard, Stephen Gentry, Zach Phillips, Nathan Ridings | 5 min | Narrative | 2016 Light House Studio | Charlottesville, VA | World premiere
The adventure of a germaphobe who must step out into the world for the sake of technology. Winner of the Audience Award and Best Actor Award in the 2016 Adrenaline Project Competition.
You Mean the World to Me | Sarah White | 6 min | Documentary | 2017 | ICA | Boston
Delve into the mind of Rose as she struggles to escape from a painful relationship.
Best Animation Short Washed Away | Madysen Yamamoto and Marina Kyle | 2 min | Animation | 2017 | Bay Area Video Coalition | San Francisco
Madysen and Marina show why it's important to recognize history.
Mirror | Sara Eustaquio | 4 min | Narrative | 2016 | Portugal
She’s young. She’s in trouble. She’s starring in the mirror looking for answers and what she is about to find out can change her life
Best Festival Short Roll Call | Ben Reingold | 10 min | Documentary | 2016 | Sharon, MA
With her physical disability, a high school girl realizes she’ll need more than her voice to succeed as a member of an a capella group.
Program, festival sponsors
Organizers thank the other sponsors of this program: ACMi, Kumon, Malden Media Center, as well as RCN, the festival's gold sponsor.
The festival is set for Oct. 26 through 29 at the Capitol. For more information, including tickets, click here >>
This news announcement was published Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, and updated Oct. 22, to add Reingold's story.
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