• Inaugural Best of PPS Film Festival will celebrate student filmmaking

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     Screen shots of student films

    Among the featured films at the inaugural Best of PPS Film Festival are (right to left, from top) "This is Me at 17" by Bella Roberts; “Portland Expanding” by Simon Murphy and Alejandro Nava; “The Starlings” by Emma Sanders and Michael Harmon; and "Cinepoem Animation” by Eliza Long.

    Two teachers wanted to find a way to celebrate the filmmaking accomplishments of their students. That was the genesis of the first Best of PPS Film Festival that will be held Sunday starting at 4 p.m. at the Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd.).

    The event, which runs 84 minutes, will showcase 11 standout films created by Portland Public Schools students during the 2018-19 school year.

    Franklin High School teachers Adam Souza and Javier Perez wanted to feature the films of students at their school, and soon realized the concept had the potential to be a district-wide celebration of the work of video production and digital media students. They worked with the district’s CTE (Career & Technical Education) department to make the event happen.

    Organizers sent invitations to submit entries to all high schools, and to middle school technology programs. The 11 films were selected from a pool of 64 entries in which 89 students from eight schools were involved. Students submitted their films at the end of last school year, and they were reviewed by a panel of 14 judges that included professional filmmakers, cinematographers, directors and screenwriters who have worked for such companies as Nike, CBS, Facebook, Laika, Caldera and Cineastas.

    The selected films, with brief synopses from the filmmakers:

    • “This is Me at 17” by Bella Roberts, Cleveland High School (teacher Vanessa Hughes). “A visual list of the most important and defining aspects of my life at age 17.”
    • “Portland Expanding” by Simon Murphy and Alejandro Nava, Franklin (Adam Souza). An exploration of the “complex issue of the development of Portland and gentrification.”
    • “Our Island’s Treasure” by Kaiya Laguardia-Yonamine, Roosevelt (Kristen Mico). “Focuses on the current destruction of the beautiful Okinawan ocean in Henoko and the fight by native Uchinanchu people to protect it.”
    • “The Starlings” by Emma Sanders and Michael Harmon, Franklin (Adam Souza). A look “behind the scenes of the popular characters created by the Northwest Children's Theater, The Starlings.”
    • “How I Lost My Toenail” by Toby Chambers, Cleveland (Vanessa Hughes). “I chose this story to tell because it is the only eventful thing that has happened in my life.”
    • “Motion” by Jack Nelson, Cleveland (Vanessa Hughes). “I set out to downtown Portland and captured much of the environment and landscape around me.”
    • “Chair-Riots of Fire” by Jack Nelson, Nate Bone and James McCormick, Cleveland (Vanessa Hughes). “A spoof on the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies using our classroom chairs.
    • “Clownin’” by Quintana Jones, Molly Gaines, Norah Bean and Audrey Bederka, Franklin (Javier Perez). "A clown finds out who their true friends are.
    • "Cinepoem Animation” by Eliza Long, Cleveland (Vanessa Hughes). “Music video animated to one of my favorite songs, ‘Wait a Minute’ by Willow Smith.
    • “Bird” by Isaac Bell, Franklin (Javier Perez). “A bird watcher experiences terror.
    • “Vipera” by Shayna Stauber and Michel Harmon, Franklin (Adam Souza). “After three confessions an investigator must interview three suspects to find out who the true killer is.”

    For tickets and other information, see the event webpage on the Hollywood Theatre website. The first 250 people who register for the event at its EventBrite page will get free admission. The event is sponsored by the Hollywood Theatre, Bodecker Foundation and Caldera.

    The 11 featured films will be curated for online viewing after the festival.