Six All-American filmmakers honored in Times Square


Jacqueline Franco '23

Five student films screened in Times Square at the AMC Empire 25 during the All-American High School Film Festival.

October 21 to 23, the works of six Sacred Heart Greenwich Filmmaking and Media Studies students loomed large over Times Square.  The All-American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF), the world’s largest high school film festival, honored these Sacred Heart student filmmakers with Official Selections for the festival, which took place at the AMC Empire 25 Theater, according to  Ms. Ellyn Stewart, Director of Media Studies, Design, and Innovation, and the student filmmakers find deeper meaning in storytelling than winning trophies.

Senior Nadia Borja, juniors Isabella Nardis and Emily Sedgwick, and senior Annie Cornell, four of the six filmmakers awarded in the festival, pose for a photo in the David J. Bloom Broadcast Suite.  Courtesy of Ms. Erin Snopkowski ’17

Seniors Jacqueline Franco and Nadia Borja’s documentary, Happy Here, is one of the three Sacred Heart documentaries judges selected for the Documentary Category.  Their documentary features Sports Buddies, a local organization in New Canaan, Connecticut, where student volunteers from Fairfield county play sports and create relationships with special needs children.  Nadia has volunteered at Sports Buddies for seven years, making this accolade extremely rewarding.

“It was so rewarding to profile and encapsulate the exuberant atmosphere of Sports Buddies,” Nadia said. “As a volunteer of seven years, I am honored to highlight a community that lies so close to my heart and spread their message as far as Times Square.”

In her documentary The American Dream, Catherine Baranello ’22 shares the story of her grandparents’ immigration to the United States from Italy.  She combined her grandparents’ home footage from the beginning of their life in America with a voiceover of them speaking of their immigration journey.

Junior Emily Sedgwick‘s documentary It’s About What You Can Do tells the story of Mr. Stephen J. Wampler, a man with cerebral palsy who climbed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in a wheelchair.  Emily’s documentary features an interview with Ms. Elizabeth Wampler and Mr. Wampler in which they speak about the mission of the Stephen J. Wampler Foundation.  Emily felt honored to receive an Official Selection for the Documentary Category of the AAHSFF.

“Being a finalist in the AAHSFF was meaningful to me because it gave me a chance to feel recognized for all of my hard work,” Emily said.  “Although I didn’t have the chance to experience the festival in person, it was exciting to celebrate with the other finalists within our school community.”

Winners of each category celebrate at the Teen Indie Awards at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York.  Courtesy of

30 Gallons by junior Isabella Nardis is a public service announcement (PSA) about conserving water.  She uses a globe and tape to display the amount of available drinking water on earth.  The AAHSFF selected her film for the PSA Category.

Annie Cornell’s creative film, A Girl’s Best Friend, received an Official Selection for the Creative Category.  A Girl’s Best Friend tells the story of the relationship between a girl and her diary.  Annie is extremely appreciative to receive this recognition.

“Being a finalist in the AAHSFF is incredibly special for me,” Annie said. “Growing up, I’ve always been interested in film and media, and I have worked extremely hard over the last three years to emulate the fantastic and inspiring work I see on the big screen, whether it be the newest blockbuster or other student-produced films at events like the Sacred Heart Film Festival.  This festival is extremely exciting for me since it is the culmination of everything I’ve worked towards over my high school experience.”

Ms. Stewart works closely with students through the creative process from pre to post-production.  She values watching her students receive such prestigious awards.

“It is very rewarding to see our Sacred Heart filmmakers recognized for their talent and creativity at local, national, and international competitions,” Ms. Stewart said.  “The AAHSFF is an international festival, and so it is especially exciting to see six of our students honored in such a prestigious competition.  It is not every day that a high school student gets their film shown in Times Square in New York City.”

Featured Image by Jacqueline Franco ’23