Top secret: Sacred Heart's ninth annual Film Festival


Sacred Heart Greenwich Upper School Broadcast Journalism students declassified their films at the spy-themed “OPERATION FILM FESTIVAL” last night in the Lennie and John de Csepel Theater. Students hosted and organized the ninth annual event, where they premiered student-directed films, presented awards, and even received surprise video calls from actor Mr. Mark Wahlberg, actress Ms. Gwyneth Paltrow, and actor Mr. David Henrie.
The student-filmmakers arrived to the festival through the “walk of fame,” where 77 gold stars naming each Broadcast Journalism student lined the main hallway leading to the theater. 
Seniors Jackie Shannon, Sophia Brusco, and Lily Lemkau hosted the Film Festival and directed the event. They began preparations for the show at the end of last year and continued until last night in order to give the audience the best experience possible. 
“I have been in the [Broadcast Journalism] program since freshman year, and it had always been my goal to host the film festival my senior year,” Sophia said. “Although I was nervous to be onstage, I feel so honored to carry out this role in my final months here at Sacred Heart.”
The hosts were ready to begin the show, but the awards mysteriously went missing. With the help of FaceTime calls from Mr. Wahlberg, Ms. Paltrow, and Mr. Henrie, the hosts could compile the evidence and find the awards in time.
Students taking part in Sacred Heart’s Broadcast Journalism and Creative Filmmaking classes work cooperatively with their classmates throughout the filmmaking process. The rising filmmakers storyboard, direct, perform in and produce their own projects, working both in and outside of school in preparation for the Film Festival.
“Our students in Broadcast Journalism have shown incredible initiative and creativity,” Ms. Stewart said. “The overall quality of our work has improved this year, and I’m excited for the audiences to see our new work.”

Judges Grace Jorgensen ’13 and Jackie Batrus ’13 presenting the award for the “PSA” category. Courtesy of Stephanie Jordan ’18

This year’s Film Festival Selection Committee consisted of 12 Broadcast Journalism students and two faculty members: Broadcast Journalism Studio Director and Broadcast Journalism teacher Ms. Ellyn Stewart and Broadcast Studio Technical Support Staff member Mr. David Pisani. The board selected 32 of the 70 student-submitted videos to showcase at the Film Festival.
The judging panel for award-winners included former Sacred Heart Broadcast Journalism students and professionals who are currently working in the media industry. Alumnae Jackie Batrus ‘13 and Grace Jorgensen ‘13  returned to Sacred Heart to judge their successors.
President of A&E Studios and A&E Networks Portfolio Group Mr. Paul Buccieri and accomplished producer Mrs. Michelle Buccieri reviewed the students’ films as well. Although Mrs. Buccieri was unable to attend the festival, Mr. Buccieri presented the Creative category award for the both of them. Mr. Scott Shannon, an award-winning radio personality and former Sacred Heart parent also judged and presented the award for the Experimental category, and Emmy award-winning Producer and Editor for NBC’s “Today” show Ms. Molly Paul awarded students for achievement in the Documentary category.
Maggy Wolanske ’18 and Christina DeConcini ’18 prepared for the “Audience Choice Awards.” Courtesy of Stephanie Jordan ’18

This year, students broadened their creative horizons. Some students cast real actors to perform in their productions, and others teamed up with local non-profit organizations to effectively raise awareness and make a difference in the community.
“The anticipation and amount of work that goes into the Film Festival all year is really exciting because everything leads up to this one night, and it all just comes together so well every year,” sophomore Broadcast Journalism student Lily DeConcini said.
After the films from a category played, the judges announced the winners. In the PSA category, Marching Towards Equality by freshman Cecilia Duncan won second place, and PAINt by seniors Jillian Larkin and Maggy Wolanske won first place.
In the Documentary category, She Persisted by freshman Isabel DeVita won second place, and Inside the Industry by sophomores Georgia Ferguson, Clementine Marcogliese, and Kate Murray won first place.
In the Experimental Film category, senior Christina DeConcini and sophomore Lily DeConcini won second place for Forget the Money. The sisters also won first place for their film Wake Up.
Lauren Burd ’18 and Barbara Jones ’18 preparing for the Film Festival on the red carpet. Shantel Guzman ’19

Finally, in the Creative Film category, Paperboy by hosts Sophia and Lily won second place and Vanished by seniors Lauren Burd and Barbara Jones won first place.
The hosts also invited audience members to vote for the Audience Choice Award.  Each audience member texted in a number that corresponded to his or her favorite film from each category to vote.  PAINt by Jillian Larkin and Maggy Wolanske won for the Public Service Announcement category.  In the “Documentary” category, Bittersweet by sophomore Jackie Prata won. Forget the Money by Christina and Lily DeConcini won in the Experimental Film category, and Fish Out of Water by Lauren Burd, Barbara Jones, and junior Grace Thompson took the award for the Creative Film category.
– Isabella Quinson, Staff Writer