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LI student film festival: On life, and death

Richard Anderson, 17, a senior at Sachem East

Richard Anderson, 17, a senior at Sachem East High School and Brookhaven Tech Center, made a film call "Journey", about his sister Amanda Anderson and her new horse that helped comfort her after her beloved horse Mufasa died. (May 8, 2013) Credit: Heather Walsh

Sixteen-year-old Hailey Treanor was on a boat that capsized in Oyster Bay last July Fourth. She was trapped under the surface but pulled to safety -- her two cousins, however, were killed, along with another child.

The Huntington High School sophomore produced a public service announcement video based on the tragedy for a class assignment. It includes interviews with Treanor's family members and news clips from reports on the accident. It asks viewers to sign a petition urging the U.S. Coast Guard to have equipment and divers at the ready for such an accident. "I thought I could take my video project and make it do something good," she says.

Treanor's work will be screened Sunday as part of the Eighth Annual First Exposure Student Film Festival at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington.

It's one of 14 videos created by high school students from Glen Cove to East Hampton selected to be shown back-to-back in a presentation that will last about an hour.


The films were selected from best entries in the annual Long Island Media Arts Show at Five Towns College in Dix Hills, which has hundreds of submissions from 60 school districts. Each film is no longer than five minutes; some are as short as 30 seconds. They include public service announcements, news reports and stop-motion animation.

"The kids absolutely love it," says Steven Taub, a member of the Suffolk County Film Commission, which runs the event. "It's at a prestigious, independent theater. The students walk in and think, 'My film is at the same place where Tony Curtis has appeared, and Isabella Rossellini has appeared.' Live, not just their films."

Sachem High School senior Richard Anderson, for instance, wanted to make an inspirational film as part of his course work at the Eastern Suffolk BOCES TV Production Program at the Brookhaven Technical Center. He focused on his older sister Amanda's new horse, Journey. He told of how Amanda's bond with Journey helped her heal after the death of her previous horse. His message: "Life can take from us, but it always gives back."


While some films were done as class assignments, others were not. Kristen Hansen, a 16-year-old junior at Hauppauge High, produced a news piece for her school's weekly television broadcast, "Eagle Watch." It reported on a fundraising event at the school featuring the kooky Harlem Wizards basketball team, with reporter Eve Barnofsky, a 16-year-old junior, interviewing players, PTA members and fans in the sold-out crowd.

Danny Casale, a 17-year-old junior at Glen Cove High, created "Five Dwellers" at the request of a local band called The Influencers that wanted to showcase its music. Casale came up with a plot in which he and the band are in the woods when a monster appears. The way to defeat it is with the power of music, so the band performs. "I wrote it, directed it and acted in it," Casale says.

Vincent Durante, a 17-year-old senior at Patchogue-Medford High, chose to make a stop-motion, anti-

bullying public service announcement, "Permanent," that shows how hateful words kids say to peers can be impossible to erase. His subject, fellow student Venezia Verdi, is shown with words of hate written on her face; she washes them off, but they reappear. Durante took 200 to 300 photographs to make the piece. Verdi, a 16-year-old junior, also has a stop-motion film, "Transformation," in the festival.


"It's really become a very powerful program for students," says Michelle Isabelle-Stark, the director of film and cultural affairs for Suffolk County. "They use this as part of their application to get into college."

Hauppauge's Hansen, who plans a broadcasting career, says it's "awesome" her film was selected. "With film, it's very much about exposure. The more you're exposed and the younger you're exposed, the better."

Eighth Annual First Exposure Student Film Festival

WHEN | WHERE 4 p.m. Sunday, Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington

INFO 631-423-7611,


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