Young Filmmakers Contest Winners

One Earth Film Festival Announces Young Filmmakers Contest Winners

By Lisa Files

Students from Oak Park River Forest High School, Trinity High School, Interlochen Arts Academy (MI), Brooks Middle School, Sandburg Middle School (Elmhurst), and Willard School will win top prizes in the One Earth Our Earth Young Filmmakers Contest during the One Earth Film Festival, March 4-6.

Winning films will premiere and filmmakers will receive cash awards at two ceremonies, one for high school at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Columbia College, Ferguson Lecture Hall, Room 101, 600 S. Michigan Ave., in Chicago, and the other for elementary and middle school winners (high school winners will also be shown) at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., in Oak Park.

High School Winner Liam Loughran of Oak Park River Forest High School

 Liam Loughran

Liam Loughran

Fifteen-year old Liam Loughran won the high school level for his concise, 3-minute, 42-second film, “Transportation.” In it, he extolls the environmental virtues of public transportation while showing cars, trains and buses from a variety of visual angles: aerial, ground, and even the exterior of a moving train. He intersperses stop motion explanations with colored paper cutouts while he narrates the facts and figures, showing that public transport is cheaper, healthier, and ultimately reduces global warming.

Liam’s film will be shown three times during the One Earth Film Festival, March 4-6. The debut screening will be at the Green Carpet Gala, 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Fourth Presbyterian Church’s Gratz Center, 126 E. Chestnut St., in Chicago. Saturday, March 5, it will appear at the Young Filmmakers Contest High School Awards at Columbia College. Finally, to inspire younger filmmakers, it will be screened at the elementary and middle school level ceremony, Sunday, at Oak Park Public Library.

Liam’s winnings include a $250 check and an additional $250 matching gift, which he plans to donate to Active Transportation Alliance.

Middle School Winner Kendall Dirks of Sandburg Middle School in Elmhurst

 Kendall Dirks

Kendall Dirks

Twelve-year-old Kendall Dirks won the middle school level for his well-researched, 6-minute, 45 second film, “Cutting Carbon Emissions." In it, he points out that transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions, that cars emit an average of 19 pounds of CO2 per gallon of gasoline, that electric cars have no emissions, and that by switching to an electric car, people can prevent 4 to 7 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year.

Kendall’s winnings include a $100 check and an additional $100 matching gift, which he will give to the Environmental Law & Policy Center's PlugIn Program.

Elementary School Winners Miles Toppen and Carter Workman of Willard School in River Forest

Nine and ten-year-old friends, Miles Toppen and Carter Workman, won the elementary school level for their creative film, “Pretty Nice Island—The Movie.” Original in both content and format, “Pretty Nice Island—The Movie” tells the story of a fictional island governed by Mayor Smog, who dons an appropriate long, gray beard. He owns 11 houses, carelessly litters, and drives his sports car even short distances, setting a bad example to islanders. An everyday hero named Green tries to improve circumstances by building bikes for everyone, encouraging people to recycle, and inviting citizens to his Birthday Party for a piece of cake. Miles and Carter tell this story via “green screen” animation, while they portray the characters themselves in live action within the animated scenes.

The boys’ winnings include a $75 check and an additional $75 gift, which they will donate to Working Bikes, an organization that rescues discarded bikes and repairs them for reuse locally and globally.

Honorable Mentions

Seventeen-year-old Marieke de Koker earned an Honorable Mention at the high school level for her original stop-motion animation titled, “Iaglo.” By combining two Latin words, “iacto” which means “waste” and “Gloria,” she created a new word for the title, meaning “the glory of waste.”

Her short animation is just under two minutes long. In her film, Marieke uses refuse to create the universe. Outer space is made from black plastic bags, the earth is created with torn blue and green paper, and the sun is formed out of red and orange Cheez-It, Doritos and Sun Chip wrappers. Next, she shows the swirl of the ocean, made from blue tissue paper and Aquafina wrappers. Garbage is thrown into the deep; a fish swims through and then disappears. Slowly the earth becomes covered with small black plastic pieces until it is absorbed into darkness.

The debut screening will be at the Young Filmmakers Contest High School Awards Ceremony, Saturday at Columbia College.

Trinity High School’s Team Green earned an Honorable Mention at the high school level for their film, “Team Green.”

This film focuses on the evolving zero waste program at their school. Students intersperse statistics about waste with playful footage of the girls collecting and sorting garbage as well as interviews with a teacher and the principal. The film finishes with a statistic of success, that by introducing composting to the school, they were able to divert 64.25 pounds of waste within one day.

Five Team Green students worked together on the film: Kate Conneely, Emma Alm, Veronka Lubeck, Sarah Whiteside, and Katherine Cusack.

Their debut screening will be at the Young Filmmakers Contest Middle and Elementary School Awards Ceremony in order to inspire younger audiences to implement zero waste programs.

Eleven and 12-year-olds Zoe Klein, Alex Schrader, and Amanda Janusz earned an Honorable Mention at the middle school level for their informative, 5-minute film, “What’s in Your Lunch?” They are members of the Eco Eagles at Brooks Middle School in Oak Park.

Their film intersperses classmate interviews with stop-motion drawings and statistics, showing the quantity of water and pesticides needed and the amount of CO2 produced in making a simple deli sandwich and potato chips. Their classmates suggest alternatives to this environmentally costly lunch.