TEANECK — A contest this fall will give high school students the opportunity to make short films using their phones and learn township history through the eyes of an older resident.
The three- to five-minute films will each feature an interview with an older Teaneck resident sharing a memory of living in the township.
“The idea is kids can tell a story about what makes Teaneck a unique place to live, told through the stories of the people who have lived here,” said Jeremy Lentz, the director of the film festival. “We want to hear stories that are engaging from all walks of life.”
The Teaneck International Film Festival and the township Board of Education are running the contest, which is open to all high school students living in Teaneck. A workshop will be held with industry professionals for students to learn editing and other filmmaking basics after Oct. 1, the deadline for submissions.
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A teenager’s question during last year’s festival was the inspiration for the contest. Deborah Riley Draper, who had just presented her documentary “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice,” was asked how young people can gain experience and break into the film industry.
“Her response was: ‘Do you have a phone? Take it out. That woman sitting next to you has a story to tell,’” said Judy Distler, a co-founder of the film festival. “There are things that they can do right in the palm of their hand.”
The films will be judged by a panel of filmmakers who will choose three of the documentaries to run with a feature film during the festival in November. The top three students will also receive a small monetary prize.
The contest gives students a way to learn filmmaking using a device they are already intimately familiar with, said Vincent McHale, the school district’s acting superintendent.
“Our students are so tech savvy,” he said. “This gives them the opportunity to use the medium they are conversant in and connect with senior residents who have stories to tell about their community.”
The students’ films will eventually be archived in the Teaneck Public Library and online, to serve as an oral history of the township.
The goal of the contest is to bring people together — older residents and teenagers, and public and private school students, said Jacqueline Kates, the project coordinator of Age-Friendly Teaneck.
The initiative, which was started last year to help older adults remain in their homes and be active members of the community, is a partner in the contest.
“I think this can be really beneficial to opening young people’s eyes to the contributions of older people and developing relationships,” Kates said. “I hope the students will gain an insight into a Teaneck that was before their time and gain a respect for the person they are interviewing.”
Smart Phone Film Contest
Must be an original documentary, three to five minutes long, filmed on a smart phone.
The contest is open to all high school students in Teaneck.
The film should be an interview with an older township resident, now or in the past, about a unique Teaneck moment, memory or place.
To submit their piece, students should upload it to Youtube the link mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and include email, name, school, grade and phone number. Contact Yvonne Witter at email@example.com, Jason Guzman at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jeannette Curtis-Rideau at email@example.com.
Source: North Jersey