Visual creativity and imaginative storytelling by Dearborn Public Schools students will be showcased at a prestigious setting this month.
Works by seven high school students, a middle school student and three groups of pupils earn Best of Show awards in the 44th Michigan Student Film and Video Festival. Winning entries will be screened April 28 at the ornate, 1,200-seat Detroit Film Theater in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Two winning entries came from students in Kurt Doelle's advanced moviemaking class at . Epic Chef, an imaginative work by Sean Murphy, Ian Mac Dougall and Denzel Williams, combines food preparation close-ups with narration, music and title slides. It won in a category for artistic/experimental films, and can been viewed at right.
Blossom from the Smoke, a general entertainment category submission, is by high school classmates Edwin Cervantes, Dimitri Ramirez, max Pizzino and Adrian Mikulak.
The district's other four winners are:
- Lego Batman: Through the Long Night, a five-minute animation by sixth-grader Sean Peacock at who learned from Metro Detroit filmmaker John Prusak, a visiting instructor. Peacock has 38 videos on his YouTube channel, including four live action mini-films and the winning entry embedded at right.
- A Fish Tale, an animated short by Lindbergh's fifth-graders in Sue Doman's art class.
- Connect the Dots, another animation by Doman's fifth-graders.
- Words to Live By, an animated short by Lindbergh's fifth-graders in another class.
Judging and the five-hour festival at the DIA are organized annually by a Royal Oak-based nonprofit called Digital Arts, Film and Television (DAFT). It invites K-12 teachers and students to submit class projects and independent work in a dozen categories, including music video, newscast, sports, documentary, public service announcement, comedy and instructional.
Nurturing digital media talent
"The main goal is to encourage and support young people who are already using media," says festival director Kathy Vander of Berkley.
Three dozen educators and media professionals reviewed hundreds of statewide entries last month at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. They chose 25 high school winners and 22 from lower grades, who'll share more than $20,000 in scholarships and prizes thanks to support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Kresge Foundation.
Other entrants get certificates of excellence, honor or merit. All are invited to the free festival, which starts at 10 a.m. in the 1927 theater downtown and is open to the public. An 11:15 a.m. reception in the mezzanine-level Crystal Café will salute high school winners, their teachers and families.
Other Metro Detroit winners
In addition to Dearborn' honorees, winners include students from Birmingham, Grosse Pointe, Lake Orion, Novi, Royal Oak, West Bloomfield and the Huron Valley Council for the Arts.
Submissions also came from Detroit, Holland, Kalamazoo, Madison Heights, Sterling Heights and smaller communities. Parents or schools paid $10 to $15 per entry, depending on how many DVDs were sent.
DAFT, an education nonprofit, was created in 1969 to promote media literacy with workshops and conferences for students, teachers and other professionals.
"This the oldest festival in the nation providing public recognition for the work of students in grades K-12," says Vander, an award-winning film producer who's an account manager at TVS Commercial Solutions in Troy. She joined DAFT's board in 1996.
"In fact, many young people who got their first public exposure through this festival have gone on to professional careers."