Teen filmmaker festival in Kalamazoo

Updated: Sunday, February 24 2013, 09:28 AM EST
Teen filmmaker festival in Kalamazoo story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - While movie stars and famous film directors get ready for the red carpet at the Academy Awards Sunday night, teens here in West Michigan are vying for some awards of their own.

This year marks the 10th annual Teen Filmmaker Festival in Kalamazoo, an event that has grown leaps and bounds over the past decade.

Ten years ago, in its first year, the festival had 16 entries.

This year, more than 120 films, created by Michigan teens age 13 to 18, were entered into the festival.

The panel of judges have whittled it all down to the top 28 finalists for a special screening on Sunday.

“They’re really high quality and they're really polished,” says festival co-organizer Michelle Stempien of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. “These kids are putting in a lot of effort to do these films.”

From documentaries to comedies, animation to music videos, the films prove that Michigan is full of young Spielbergs and Scorseses.

“There aren’t many of these opportunities out there, so we're really glad to be able to provide this for these kids,” Stempien adds. “We've had so many kids come up to us and say, ‘This is so great! Thank you so much for doing this.’ And a lot of our kids have then gone on to film school.”

Some of the films are such high quality, Stempien says audiences often forget the camera was in the hands of a teen.

“Adults can be in the film as talent, but the teens are required to do all the directing, all the editing and all the background work,” Stempien notes. “No adults can help. And it’s really remarkable to see what kids can do these days.”

The films are to two to ten minutes in length.

Crowds at the Teen Filmmaker Festival will be able to watch the top 28 films on Sunday.  The free event starts at 2:30pm at the State Theater in Kalamazoo.  The ticket office opens at noon and doors open at 1:30pm.  The festival is a joint effort by the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, the Kalamazoo Public Library, Public Media Network and Campaign Pictures, with help this year from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.
    
Following the showings, awards will be given out in nine categories, including Best Animation, Best Experimental Film and Best Cinematic Merit.  The audience will also have a chance to vote for the People's Choice Award.

For more information on the Teen Filmmaker Festival, click here: http://www.kpl.gov/teens/filmmakerfest/Teen filmmaker festival in Kalamazoo
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