2019 Boulder International Film Festival Youth Awards

On March 1, 2019, Boulder International Film Festival, BIFF for short, hosted their 2019 Youth Awards at the Boulder Public Library. The evening consisted of awards given to different teens about the films they had made. Similar to the Oscars, awards such as best director, best editing and best overall film were given throughout the night. Teens involved in both the film creating and the event handed out these awards to the winners after watching the winning film. Incredibly inspiring films won throughout the night which made the audience think deeply about the story and the content. There was laughter, and there were some emotions in all of these movies, which left the audience thinking long and hard about the morals of the stories. The presenters then proceeded to do a small Q and A with all of the winners.

Questions such as “What inspired you to make this film?” or “What challenges did you face while creating this film?” were asked. Some of the filmmaker’s answers were she “watched a lot of YouTube” and that the quick transitions inspired the editing of her film. Being able to hear the thoughts of the young filmmakers was a fantastic opportunity. After seeing their films, it was such an amazing opportunity to listen to what inspired them to create an amazing piece of film.

Filmmakers Kayla Kummerl (Senior), Krista Kummerl (Senior), and Richard Ahn (Junior) won the best overall film for their film “Pájaro.” They said they were both seniors in high school, and with the stress of applying to college, they felt that the schools only saw them for their grades and GPA’s, while they realized that it is essential not to confine yourself in the boundaries of society and break down the walls.

Their film started with a girl in a bright white box coloring a piece of paper. There was a buzzer in the back that would go off when she made a mistake, and for her to start over again. After multiple times of the girl painting and coloring and the buzzer continuously going off, she has had enough. She proceeds to throw the paint on the white walls, coloring them bright colors as a way to get her anger out. Finally, she notices that the buzzer stopped. It wasn’t going on anymore. She leans up against the wall and here’s a bird from outside. She then pushes down the wall, only to find that she is in the middle of a field and is now free. The concluded with her picking up one of the drawings and walking away from the box, venturing out into her new, open world.

Local teenagers from Boulder were nominated in the Youth Awards, and also teens from India! The winner for best experimental was Boulder High School’s own Charlotte Hanley. I was able to interview Charlotte about her experience in BIFF.

1) What was it like making a film? Did you have any challenges? What worked well?

“Making a film, It was eye-opening to experience the effort it takes to create a production, even something simple in high school. Every step of the process is so detailed and important; it requires a lot of time and energy. Communication with others about the creative ideas I had an image of in my head was one challenge; it was hard to express the emotion I wanted to convey without a source of inspiration to reference. I used new software to edit, and the process went smoothly, and that’s really where the film came ‘alive.’”

2) What was your experience being at a film festival? How did it feel to win?

“I loved being on the youth advisory council for BIFF. We did fun projects with local businesses around town and helped out the middle school filmmakers, then when the festival season came, we got to organize the youth pavilion events and out on our competition. As for having a film in the competition, very encouraging (especially winning) but also nerve-wracking. It takes much courage to display anything you create to anyone, and to have it shown to an entire crowd of people I don’t know was very raw.”

3) What was the best part about being at this festival?

“The best part of being in the festival was getting to hear people’s feedback. I loved hearing their favorite parts as well as their critiques. It was gratifying being recognized for the time and hard work I put into my film. It was great to have it shown to my family and my friends in a more serious platform than just at home on a small computer.”

4) Why do you make films/ what inspires you?

“I like to make the film because it has so much versatility. Depending on what angle you shoot from or what time of day, the final product you create will be so different. There are infinite elements you can incorporate to make it unique.”