Documentary filmmaker Brian Adamkiewicz returned to his roots Saturday.
He attended the fourth annual film festival at Long Beach High School, where less than a decade ago he learned the tools of his trade in a TV studio production class. He used those tools to make a film that won an award at the Cannes Film Festival in France last month.
He spoke to students from the school’s TV production class before their short films were screened in the auditorium Saturday.
“It’s really cool to see kids from my hometown doing the same thing I do, having a passion for filmmaking,” said Adamkiewicz, 25, who graduated from the high school in 2010.
On Saturday, 34 student films in various categories were shown, including animation, public service announcement and comedy. All 70 of the students in the class were involved in producing the festival films, said Eric Krywe, TV studio production teacher.
“It’s a great way to showcase the students’ hard work and effort,” and inspire them to continue in the field in college and professionally, he said.
About 50 people who attended the high school’s film festival voted for the winners online afterward.
Krywe’s class started in 2003 as a photo and video course. Students in Krywe’s class now learn all aspects of TV and film production in a $1 million state-of-the-art studio that opened in 2015, he said.
Adamkiewicz, who was one his students, used the foundation he gained at Long Beach to win at Cannes, “the biggest independent film festival in the world,” Krywe said.
Krywe is passionate about students learning the trade, Adamkiewicz said.
“As a high school student, I was making films and no one was really seeing them but my teacher . . . and he believed in me and gave me the motivation and the confidence I needed to go on to the next step,” said Adamkiewicz, a Brooklyn resident and 2016 graduate of Brooklyn College.
His Cannes award-winning documentary, “Build Ramps Not Walls,” features a Mexican and American skateboarding crew on Mexico’s Pacific Coast who build a skate ramp “with the same construction materials that would be used to build the wall between Mexico and the U.S.,” according to the film’s description.
The 13-minute film was named Best Student Documentary in the Cannes Film Festival’s Emerging Film Maker category, part of the American Pavilion.
At Long Beach high’s festival Saturday, the trailer for “Build Ramps Not Walls” was shown, as well as Adamkiewicz’s short film, “The Surfing Samurai,” about a North Bellmore man, Dylan Hronec, who lives with cerebral palsy and surfs.
Several of the student films screened at the festival have won other awards.
Long Beach junior Ashanti Sherred’s film, “Get Signed,” a 2-minute movie about a teen boy living with an alcoholic mother, won third place Saturday and a second-place award in the drama category at the Locust Valley High School Film Festival in March.
The 16-year-old says she plans to pursue a career in filmmaking because she is drawn to creative expression.
“I like how there is freedom and creativity and how I’m able to speak my mind to people with the things that I make,” she said.