HIGHLAND PARK — Organizers of the Highland Park Independent Film Festival want to unite a community with movie magic. It’s no simple task, what with the neighborhood being so diverse. Some prefer action, romance, some like comedies and others want to see their stories told on the screen.
Festival hosted screenings have already taken place at the Highland Theater, and in October the official festival will take place (deadline for submissions is later this month). During the spring semester a mentorship program guided Franklin High students through the rigors of movie making. Students were able to interact with professional directors, animators and create their own shorts. They even got their hands on some expensive gear and went wild.
“My interest in the film industry definitely went up,” said Sophomore Chayuda Sitthiphap, 16. “I would love to be a director or maybe even a producer or writer. Making the audience smile makes me smile.”
The mentorship spearheaded by professional director of photography Alessandro Gentile, created two intro shorts for the festival. As for the festival itself all the grassroots energy is finally starting to pay off with entries coming in ranging from comedy, to sci-fi and even animation.
“There are so many filmmakers in the area and so much art as well,” says Gentile. “But there just wasn’t a large film outlet in NELA. Plenty of creative types are living here, but they don’t have a chance to show their talents.”
An earlier incarnation of the film festival featured members of NELAarts, but this marks the first year for the Highland Park Independent Film Festival. Not all entries are from Highland Park, but that doesn’t mean that the neighborhood itself doesn’t play a role in the festival. Gentile thinks that the prestige of Highland Park comes from its history, and how it’s always changing, but attracting different groups of people over the years.
“I think Highland Park has a rich history. For a long time that history has been swept under the rug, but now people are wanting to resurface its beauty.”
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Avenue Meander.