Schaumburg student festival showcases 36 short films

Schaumburg's Screen Test Student Fest, a local film fest festival with an international scope, celebrates its 10th anniversary on Saturday, April 16, at the Prairie Center for the Arts.

The addition of a third screening event allows Screen Test to show the greatest number of films in its history. A total of 214 films, submitted by students spanning five continents, were pared down to the 36 shorts selected for the event. Entries were reviewed by a panel of 17 judges, including industry professionals and educators in media and the arts.

The festival kicks off at 11 a.m. with Screen Test Jr., a collection of shorts by student filmmakers in fifth through eighth grades.

The films, all less than 10 minutes long, cover a wide range of genres including drama, comedy, animation and nonfiction. Local directors will be present to discuss their films while out-of-state filmmakers will communicate via a live Internet video feed. Audience members and filmmakers are invited to a free doughnut and bagel reception prior to the screenings.

The films include "A Dog's Life" by Julia Holzl of Mount Prospect, where clay stop-motion dogs learn the true meaning of friendship; "Movement," a music video by Dryden School fifth graders in Arlington Heights; "Namaste" by Grace Lambertsen of Lake Zurich, where a girl's first yoga class leads to hilariously awkward situations; and "The Cloud is Snowing" by Andrew Orals of Lake Zurich, where a student's language arts paper gets lost in the cloud - literally.

At 2 p.m., Matinée Internationale offers 12 films spanning four continents.

"There are no Hollywood filters on these films, particularly the entries from overseas," says Prairie Center Production Supervisor Rob Pileckis, who coordinates the fest. "These young filmmakers are shooting in their own neighborhoods, using local talent with local resources. You get a strong sense of what life is like in these locations."

Screen Test's main event, the Festival and Competition, highlights top-tier works by high school students from the U.S. and Canada, who will vie for cash prizes and top honors.

"The vision and maturity of these works are astounding," says Pileckis. "It would be hard to find better films by high school kids than what we're exhibiting here."

All films will be discussed by their directors after the films are screened. Audience and filmmakers are invited to a Red Carpet Dessert Reception before the screenings begin.

Local entries include:

• "Cody Evans - A Soldier's Journey Home" by Mina Sabet, Natalie Fuller, Cassidy Schmidt and Joey Sinopoli of Arlington Heights, the nonfiction story of how a high school unites to build a home for an injured war veteran.

• "The Fisherman" by Tim Hudson of Wheaton, a drama on how explosions abound when two armed men confront a seemingly innocent fisherman.

• "Light Motif Pt. II" by Bojana Crnomarkovic of Palatine, a poetic essay contemplating light, space and time.

• "Nostalgia" by Maggie Jakopac of Elk Grove Village, a moving visual love letter to a home filled with memories.

• "Parallel" by Nihal Dantluri of Naperville, a drama where a boy's sanity is questioned when he obsesses over the feeling of being followed by an unknown presence.

• "Sometimes, Maybe" by Cole Bacani of Naperville, a drama in which while packing for college one evening, a young woman stumbles upon a mysterious letter that seems to hold her back.

Three films selected for Flix in Six, a special 6-second film category, will also be shown: "Cheater" by Axel Estrada of Hoffman Estates; "Insanity" by Aladin Rizvic of Hanover Park; and "Thor' by Russel Wagner of Palatine.

Tickets are $5 for Screen Test Jr., $5 for Matinée Internationale, and $10 ($5 students/seniors) for the Festival and Competition. A full day festival pass for all three screenings costs $15 ($10 students/seniors).

Tickets and more information on the films and the festival are at or by calling (847) 895-3600. The Prairie Center for the Arts is located at 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg.

Fifth graders at Dryden School in Arlington Heights made a film, "Movement," that has been accepted in the Screen Test Student Fest showing of 36 films from around the world Saturday in Schaumburg. Here, students storyboard the film. Courtesy of Prairie Center for the Arts
Fifth graders at Dryden School in Arlington Heights made a film, "Movement," that has been accepted in the Screen Test Student Fest showing of 36 films from around the world Saturday in Schaumburg. In their music video, an art lesson on motion is told through live action, animation and song. Courtesy of Prairie Center for the Arts
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