Sacred Heart swings into the 8th annual Film Festival


Several Sacred Heart Greenwich student-directors celebrate their award-winning films. Christina Weiler ’17

The Lennie and John de Csepel Theater teemed with the audience’s applause, euphonies of artful dialogues, and scores of debuted student-directed films yesterday April 6 from 6-8 p.m. at the Eighth Annual Film Festival. The event featured the creative projects of Sacred Heart Greenwich Upper School students and celebrated student cinematic accomplishments.

Studio Director and Broadcast Journalism Teacher Ms. Stewart congratulated senior hosts Juliette Guice and Quinn Butler on their participation in leading the Film Festival. Christina Weiler ’17

The foyers of Salisbury Hall and Hayes Hall accommodated festival attendees for light refreshments and photographs before the films debuted. Adorned with Art Deco style posters and slinky jazz music, the space illuminated the festival’s chosen theme of The Great Gatsby and transported guests to the roaring twenties.
The student film lineup consisted of 32 selections. In Sacred Heart’s Broadcast Journalism and Creative Filmmaking classes, students write, direct, and produce their own films using camera equipment, cinematic techniques, and actors of their choice. The four film categories included Public Service Announcements (PSA), Documentaries, Experimental Entries, and Creative Entries. At the festival, selected student films played on a broad, movie-theater style screen for the audience and festival judges.
Spanning no longer than one minute, each Public Service Announcement film drew attention to relevant social issues. Freshman Christine Plaster and junior Kaitlin Reilly’s film Every Drop Counts approached the issue of water conservation. Weaving quick, sterile shots of faucets running water, Christine and Kaitlin informed their audience of America’s unapologetic waste of valuable resources.
Freshman Malika Amoruso wins second place in the Documentary Category and shares her success with her parents and father’s seeing eye dog. Christina Weiler ’17

The Documentary category often receives the most submissions. At this year’s festival, documentaries dealt with a breadth of topics as student directors shed light on the diversity of the human experience. In her film Partners in Sight, freshman Malika Amoruso exhibited the process of training and managing seeing eye dogs. Malika artistically orbited themes of preserving pride and dignity for the disabled. The film won second place in the Documentary category.
“I wanted to tell my father’s story visually with dynamic close-ups and live interviews,” Malika said. “Essentially, people with disabilities are not disabled. They are differently abled. I urge people never to discount people based on their differences.”
Kenyon Graduate and Sacred Heart Greenwich alumna Lucy Adams ’12 presents the winning film of the Public Service Announcement (PSA) category. Courtesy of Mr. Ed Stewart.

A panel of four professional media judges assessed the films and selected winners. A graduate of Kenyon College and an experienced filmmaker, Ms. Lucy Adams ’12 returned to Sacred Heart to serve as a judge. Also composing the panel of judges was Partner of LORTON Entertainment Mr. Joe Berry, award-winning actress Ms. Sarah Megan Thomas, and executive producer of “CBS This Morning” Mr. Ryan Kadro.
The announcement of the winners followed viewings of each category. In the PSA category, The Ongoing List by junior Maggy Wolanske won first place and Building Hope by freshman Sophia Georgas won second place. The Godmother of Comedy by sophomore Lorraine Rinaldi won first place and Partners in Sight by freshman Malika Amoruso won second place in the Documentary category. In the Experimental category, Switzerland by freshman Lily DeConcini won first place and Yearn to Fly by sophomore Stephanie Browder, senior Kendall Newman, and junior Sophia Brusco won second place. Finally, in the Creative category, A Closed Book by juniors Lauren Burd and Barbara Jones won first place and A Lot Like You by juniors Sophia Brusco, Lily Lemkau, and Kaitlin Reilly won second place.
Sacred Heart seniors and event hosts Juliette Guice and Quinn Butler bantered amicably throughout the evening. Their creative preparation for the event was based on how to most uniquely and effectively excite the audience.
“In weeks leading up to the festival, Quinn and I organized a countdown. Each day someone announced the number of remaining days until the festival. One morning, Upper School math teacher Mr. [Robert] Cushman played a rendition of ‘To the Races’ on his euphonium in front of the entire student body,” Juliette said.
Trophy boys Liam Butler and Johnny Riehl waltz onto the stage to present awards. Courtesy of Mr. Ed Stewart.

In another effort to entertain audience members, this year Sacred Heart’s Broadcast Journalism classes updated festival traditions with new technological practices. The Film Festival staff launched an “Eventbrite” page, which enabled guests to buy tickets online weeks before the event and select desired seating locations through a virtual map of the theater. As in past years, audience members voted for their favorite films on an online polling system accessible from mobile devices at the end of the event. 
“The initiative taken and high standards held by our students spoke volumes to me about their commitment and dedication to the festival and the arts,” Studio Director and Broadcast Journalism Teacher Ms. Ellyn Stewart said. “It was very impressive to see how 73 broadcast students collaborated together to make the night a success. I’ve been thrilled to witness our new students’ enthusiastic dedication to making it work.”
Student filmmakers developed an aesthetic unlike years past. Flashing shots of fluorescent colored horizons as well as lone, contemplative actors, the filmmakers artfully captured the human experience through cinema.

“It is imperative that all young artists are celebrated and encouraged,” filmmaker and senior Maddie McLane said. “Essentially, we are makers and innovators. We are obligated to address important issues in the best way we can: engaging each other through creative outlets, like film.”

-Christina Weiler, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Relive the magic. Watch our live stream of the event in its entirety.