Student filmmakers got the chance to screen their work for a live audience Friday night as winners were announced in the fourth annual Howard County Student Film Festival held at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.
Mary Jane Sasser, gifted and talented resource teacher at River Hill High School and adviser to the film festival, estimated that 300 people filled the Kossiakoff Center to watch the top five films in the annual juried competition, which is open to students in county public and private high schools. Film directors also took questions from the audience.
Top honors went to Kevin Eikenberg, a junior at Marriotts Ridge High School, for his entry Life of an Extra. His mockumentary, which is a spoof of a documentary, shows viewers in a tongue-in-cheek way what it's like to be an actor who has a minor role in a play.
"This festival represents an amazing opportunity for students to put their best foot forward in an era when creativity is in some ways marginalized as we frantically work to achieve" on state assessments, said Tom Payne, coordinator of advanced programs and fine arts for the county school system. Payne has been a judge for three years.
Board of Education member Sandra French attended for the first time this year along with co-member Ellen Flynn Giles.
"Education requires more than knowledge - that's just the beginning," said French, praising the students for their smooth handling of the festival's planning and execution. "It's how you use knowledge that counts, and this festival is a fine example of that."
Second place was awarded to Wilde Lake freshmen Ryan Mann and Brendan Born for The Ultimate Power. There was a tie for third place between Daniel Kennett, a senior at Mount Hebron, for In The Blank of an Eye, and Karen Turner, a senior at Centennial, for The Yellow Shoes. A Judges' Choice award went to Catherine Blackwell, a senior at Centennial, for using a new animation technique in Keep Breathing.
Prizes including film editing software, DVDs and gift certificates were awarded.
The first meeting to begin planning next year's festival, to be held March 27, 2009, will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 14 at Starbucks in The Mall in Columbia. All interested students are invited to attend. For information, visit www.hocofilmfestival.com.