It's been in existence for only eight years, but a small film festival that was limited to students studying the craft at Palatine High School is now a districtwide event that has expanded to the surrounding community.
Palatine High School art teacher Nick Hostert said the school's MoonWaltz Student Film Festival has received more than 100 submissions this year and, for the first time, there is participation from students at all five Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 high schools.
"There's a lot of opportunities for still arts to be put on display ... but there hasn't been much for the media arts. That's why we've really worked to expand it," Hostert said.
Alumni who participated in the festival, and in some cases went on to study or work in the film or media arts industry, decide which films will be showcased at the juried event, which begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at Palatine High School, 1111 N. Rohlwing Road. The festival is free and open to the public.
Hostert said there isn't a theme for submissions, but students are asked to keep the films to less than 10 minutes if possible. Still, he said, only about 30 to 40 videos will be chosen to air at the festival.
"It's a balance of quality, running time and exhibiting a diverse group of videos," he said. "Our goal is to feature as many types of works from as many different students in the district as possible."
Hostert said the equipment students use to create the videos include Final Cut Pro and iMovie, along with high-definition and digital SLR cameras. Their subjects range from short comedic films to music videos.
"It's a friendly competition, but it's not high stakes at all," he said.
Multiple awards are issued by the judges and ballots are filled out at the end of the show to determine who receives the audience choice award, Hostert said.
Besides boosting the young filmmakers' confidence by putting their work on display, Hostert said the festival also offers a great opportunity for the film educators to exchange ideas with each other.
"As the digital curriculum has grown in the district, we have been in collaboration more and more throughout the schools," he said, adding that he is grateful for the resources the district provides so the student work gets feedback and is shared with others, instead of staying in a computer lab.