A film festival of original movies shown at a theater for the arts seems like a natural fit. That same film festival being put on by a public library might be a bit of a curveball.
It's the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, though, that will be presenting its sixth annual Teen Film Fest on Sunday, Aug. 5. This year, for the first time, the library is not hosting the event, holding it instead at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.
The bigger venue is not just to accommodate the festival's largest field ever, but also part of an ongoing effort on the library's behalf to better serve the teen demographic.
Tom Spicer, the library's teen librarian, spoke about various changes in the event that have been made with that aim. A greater focus was placed on working with and creating digital media, and the teen section of the library's website was accordingly redesigned for greater interactivity.
Interactivity was at the heart of what Spicer said the library was trying to offer to teens, something that might fly in the face of a more traditional perception of the role that institution plays. In advance of the film fest, the library held a five-hour boot camp in which four filmmakers gave teens advice on directing, storyboarding, sound effects and camera work.
"We want the library to be a living thing, and we want it to appeal to teens," Spicer said. "To do that, you have to kind of shed that image of a library being a museum for books."
That isn't to say there's not a focus on books or education. For Teen Read Week, the library will be hosting a series of authors. The library gave a number of copies of the book "Legend," by Marie Lu, one of those authors, to teens in the community. They were encouraged to pass it along to their friends and track the progress of the books, naturally, on the library's website.
The film fest itself is an opportunity for teens to learn valuable skills, according to library trustee Debbie Smart, who also serves as a trustee for the Arlington Heights Arts Commission, another sponsor of the event. By opening the event to a wide range of participants -- 26 in total, ranging from first-time filmmakers to seniors in high school with aspirations toward a future in the medium -- the whole of the teen community can benefit from the experience, she said.
"It's a strong, comprehensive exercise that will help them in their schoolwork, help them in their lives, help them in their careers," Smart said.
The Teen Film Fest will be held from 2-5 p.m. Sunday at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St. in downtown Arlington Heights. The event is free. Prizes of $50 will be given to the best film in six categories, including best overall film, best music video, and best use of an Arlington Heights landmark in a film.