U19 Film Fest red carpet event draws youth talent to Trail's Royal Theatre on April 14

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
April 6th, 2012

The annual Under-19 Film Festival will hold its gala event to showcase the work of youth filmmakers from around the region on Apr. 14, 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Royal Theatre.

Now in it’s fifth year, this will be the first the U19 Film Fest has been in a professional setting, said co-organizer Rachael Roussin of the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture (RCAC).


I caught up with Roussin, co-organizer Erin Handy of the Kootenay Association of Science and Technology (KAST), and a room full of young filmmakers at Tuesday’s preview screening at the Miners’ Hall in Rossland. 


When I arrived, the filmmakers were reviewing films in the sports category that displayed impressive cinematography and great athletics. Later in the afternoon the youth collaborated on the official program, deciding how best to show the films to the public and in what order.


The gala, and the lead-up to it, is intended to give the young filmmakers a taste of the professional film world. Roussin described the event itself as “competitive,” with a judging panel awarding prizes for the top films in each of six categories, and a grand prize of a high-end Canon camera for best-of-the-fest. 


The judges will be half youth and half representatives from sponsors and local teachers—the event is supported by some $6000 in funding, half from the Columbia Basin Trust, and half from private sponsors including the Kootenay Savings Credit Union, Columbia Power, and the regional district (RDKB).


In addition to screening great new films, there will be door prizes, food, drink, and a youth DJing for the event. “It’s the big one,” Roussin laughed.


The gala is the climax of three events for youth filmmakers since last fall. In September, RCAC and KAST ran youth filmmaker workshops in Castlegar, Trail, and Rossland, in which professional filmmakers from Nelson’s Watershed Productions introduced the basics of digital filmmaking—storyboarding, shooting, editing, and production—in two 3-hour after school sessions.   


“KAST bought Adobe Premier Elements, [a powerful editing software] and four laptops,” Handy said. “It’s a portable lab that we can use for projects like this, or I’d like to do something with stop-motion down the road.”


The second event was the Reel Youth Film Festival in November, showcasing short films (under ten minutes) by youth under the age of 19 from around the world, and five submissions from Trail and Rossland filmmakers.


“It was an awesome film event, with great feedback from the community,” Roussin said. “The calibre was impressive. Amazing films: interesting, deep, with good meaning.”


Roussin summarized RCAC and KAST’s strategy: “We gave them the tools, then we gave them the inspiration: This is what kids around the world are doing in film making. Now the grand gala at the very end will showcase what they came up with. They’ve had the whole school year to work on this. It’s great to see how the kids have pulled together their submissions on time.”


Roussin returned to what she considered the most important element of the entire process: “the fact that it’s youth run.”


“KAST and RCAC put a lot of effort into getting youth together to plan these events,” she said. “A lot of effort. Today we have half of the youth here from Trail. We went down and got them, since we know transportation is an issue. Last week we had our meeting in Trail, so we brought the Rossland kids down to Trail.”


“We really have representation from both communities, and I think that’s a pillar of success,” Roussin said. “It’s been hard to work with, chasing kids around all the time, but in the end it’s really inclusive and the film festival is better for it.”


Handy agreed, adding that it was important to get the students’ perspectives. “I’m always really surprised by the kids’ take on the content, the order, what we should do for the event, how things are organized. They’ve got a different approach than that of a 30 year old, top-down, mandating how it’s going to go.”


“This way these kids take ownership, they create it,” Handy said. “And they give us ideas we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

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