Maine East, Maine South high schools take top honors at Student Silent Film Festival

Maine East, Maine South high schools take top honors at Student Silent Film Festival

Students from both Maine East and Maine South high schools received top honors for their silent films at the Student Silent Film Festival held Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove.

Their winning entries were Maine East's "Prometheus Bound" and Maine South's "You Can Only Imagine." Also taking top honors was Lyons Township High School's "Stood Up."

The fourth annual film competition featured students from 11 area high schools creating original motion pictures. Unlike other film competitions, however, the movies submitted told their stories in visual terms without the aid of voices or sound effects. Each school was given four weeks to create its silent film entry.

Maine East

"Being honored at the Student Silent Film Festival was a testament to my students' hard work, creativity, and collaborative skills," said Phillip Ash, radio/TV broadcasting teacher at Maine East in Park Ridge.

"They were able to see this project through with little creative compromise and, as a result, we have a story of which everyone is proud."

The students who created "Prometheus Bound" at Maine East are Andre Larios, director/writer; Quintin Lasky, assistant director; Mark Lazo, animation and graphics; and Jonathan Mathew, actor.

"It's a great feeling to see our passion for film come to life on screen and to have it be well-received by our peers and the judges," said senior Andre Larios. "I learned a lot about the importance of collaboration and communication. Trust in your team is essential to creating meaningful art."

"From the beginning, the director and lead writer of the film had a specific idea of what they wanted 'Prometheus Bound' to be," Ash said. "The team found time to test different lenses and looks before they landed on the aesthetic they wanted. My students filmed and stayed late after school, were honest with themselves throughout the process, and did not shy away from reshoots. Their dedication was second to none."

Maine South High School students win the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema award during the Student Silent Film Festival Jan. 25 at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove. Courtesy of Student Silent Film Festival

Maine South

"The students who produced this project are incredibly dedicated to creating films that are entertaining and engaging to audiences," said Mason Strom, radio/TV broadcasting teacher at Maine South in Des Plaines.

"Watching their collaboration and devotion to the work was very inspiring. Maine South has participated in the festival every year it has taken place, and this was the first time the students received the honor of Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking."

The filmmaking team at Maine South included Angie Guercio, Will Burns, Tyler DeMott, Riley Gibson, Nicole Scimeca, Dylan Sarsany, Evan Saurer, Luke Compton, Maddie Beyer, Giona Maccaferi, and Max Jokinen.

"I was the editor and a co-writer on the film," said Guercio. "Winning was the validation I needed to fully believe in myself and my work. With so many voices of input, I had to learn how to take other people's advice without sacrificing my own opinions."

Students at Lyons Township High School won the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema award during the Student Silent Film Festival Jan. 25 at Downers Grove's Tivoli Theatre. Courtesy of Student Silent Film Festival

Lyons Township

"My students demonstrated a level of creativity and collaboration that I haven't seen in several years," said media adviser Bill Allan. "They really pulled together. They had numerous meetings, location scouts, and rehearsals. They scheduled three shoot days and ended up adding two more to reshoot and perfect their scenes. In addition, the editing process was laser focused."

The Lyons Township High students who created "Stood Up" are Maddox McDonald, Ben Cunin, Daniel Murray, George Gangas, Elliott Marcoux, Karman Kapsa, Annie Price, Abby Gertsmeier, Mia Sekulovski, and Michael Badrov.

"I learned that with a crew this big there are a lot of moving parts," said Murray of LaGrange Park. "Keeping track of everything was essential."

"I learned how much needs to be done even for a short 6-minute film," Elliott Marcoux of La Grange said. "It was clear the judges and audience enjoyed our film, and I am relieved that all the hard work paid off."

All submitted movies were shown with live musical accompaniment by festival founder Derek Berg, who is a professional pianist and CEO of the Clarendon Hills Music Academy. Berg's original compositions were inspired by the soundtracks from the network series "Stranger Things."

For the festival, a panel of judges - all professionals in the entertainment or art education industries - selected Lyons Township, Maine East and Maine South based on the quality of the story narrative, development, camera work, lighting, and editing.

The high schools were provided with an HD digital file of their movie with the accompanying sound track.

Other participating high school were: Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park, Barrington High School, Lake Forest High School, Mundelein High School, Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Riverside/Brookfield High School, Alan B. Shepard High School in Palos Heights, and Vernon Hills High School.

"In addition to being an incomparable experience for all the participating students, the winning filmmakers will have powerful pieces of work for their portfolios," said festival founder Ed Newmann of Hinsdale.

Due to the success of all four years of this festival, a Halloween Silent Film Festival will take place in October, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 25.

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