Two weekends ago, students and parents from around the region gathered in Gilman School’s Alumni Auditorium for its Third Annual Daniel A. Citron Film Festival.The first and second festivals were envisioned and organized by Citron, a former Gilman student and filmmaker who now attends Harvard. This year, the torch was passed to Festival Director John Chirikjian, a Gilman senior, who remarked that he was extremely impressed by the overall quality of the submissions, which were solicited from high school students around the city. Chirikjian lauded the efforts of students from other schools, not just Gilman, explaining that “it’s been a very Gilman-centric event in the past, but the wide variety of films that we received from such a wide range of schools helped bring a new perspective to the festival.”
Student-run with faculty advisors/judges, the festival received 44 submissions from K-12 students at area schools, including Bryn Mawr, Carver Vocational-Technical High, Friends, Gilman, Loyola, and Park. The event screened more than 30 films over three hours to an audience of nearly 350. Prizes ranged from an iPad Mini to $50 cash for categories such as Best Film (Grand Jury Prize) and Best Original Screenplay. (See clips of some of the prize-winning films below.)
For some students, like sophomore Jonathan Yue, the best part of submitting a film was “the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a long project.” For others, it was having their film screened to a large audience. But one of the best student-to-filmmaker stories came from Ben Levitsky whose works, “Hang Me Up to Dry” and “iFail,” respectively won the Grand Jury Prize and 2nd Best Narrative Award at the Festival.
Levitsky, a senior at Park, had no filmmaking experience before last summer, when his theater director encouraged him to attend NYU’s Tisch Summer Filmmakers Workshop for High School Students. Says Levitsky, “I’d always appreciated films, but never thought about making my own. After discovering NYU had a summer film program, I said to myself, you have to do this, or at least try. Fortunately, I was accepted, and over the summer, I just fell in love with the program.” Having discovered a passion, Levitsky now plans to attend NYU for filmmaking in the fall.
Seven Select Films from the Festival:
Hang Me Up to Dry (Park School) – Grand Jury Prize
Self-Addressed (Carver) – Best Original Screenplay
Castigo (Gilman) – Notable Film
Death Perception (Gilman) – Best Cinematography
Operation: Infiltrate (Gilman) – Young Director
I Capture (Loyola) – Best Narrative
iFail (Park School) – 2nd Best Narrative
Ethan Park is the Baltimore Fishbowl student intern. He is a sophomore at Gilman School.