Cy Lakes, Jersey Village students recognized at SXSW Film Festival

April 18, 2018

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Dave DeJohn (right), CFISD director of digital cinema, Mitzi Loera (left), assistant director for digital cinema, and Vanessa Koch (second from left), production curriculum coordinator, join Cypress Lakes and Jersey Village high school students who qualified as finalists in the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in March in Austin and attended a viewing party.

By Andrea Zagal, Jersey Village HS

April 18, 2018—After many hours of dedication and planning, broadcast students from Cypress Lakes and Jersey Village high schools not only qualified as finalists in the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, one of the largest film festivals in the country, but head to Austin in March to see their films on the big screen.

Both projects were part of the Texas High School Shorts section, which was described as a preview of the next filmmaking generation with high school students presenting short films of five minutes or less. They joined other filmmakers and participants, with SXSW hosting a viewing party for those in the film industry to come together to watch showcases, premiers and music videos.

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Jersey Village High School senior Adam Phole (left) and junior Armaan Ramazanli attend a viewing party at the South by Southwest Film Festival, as their project was among the 21 finalists across the state in the Texas High School Shorts section.

Cypress Lakes seniors Nana Acheampong, Jose Martinez and Brandon Mai collaborated to create Silent Fist. After working through and narrowing down several ideas, the trio decided on a comedy skit consisting of a Buddhist monk boxer who is challenged by a Mexican boxer in the ring.

“We went through four scripts but we wanted something comedic, something to hit the audience (and) something that people could relate to,” said Martinez, who co-directed the project with Achempong. “This film showed they test each other’s limits and strengths.”

Jersey Village senior Kourtney Williams directed the film What It Takes, a gymnastics documentary showcasing the different views of male gymnasts throughout different ages.  The film also explained sacrifices gymnasts made as well as goals they would like to achieve.

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Adriel Ortiz (left), Cypress Lakes High School media broadcast teacher, joins students Brandon Mai (second from left), Jose Martinez and Nana Acheampong at a viewing party at the South by Southwest Film Festival. The students’ short film, Silent Fist, was among the 21 finalists across the state in the Texas High School Shorts section.

Fellow seniors Mitchell Ellison (cinematographer) and Adam Pohle (colorist), juniors Angelo Escobar and Armaan Ramzanali (camera operators), and sophomore Cheyenne Louw (editor) helped collaborate on the project.

“We got to interview Jonathan Horton, a two-time gymnastic Olympian, and meeting him was an experience on its own,” Williams said.

After being selected, students were given passes to the festival and able to view the films.

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Jersey Village High School seniors Mitchell Ellison (left) and Kourtney Williams attend a viewing party at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Their short film, What It Takes, was a finalist in the Texas High School Shorts section.

“It got shown on the big screen, so getting to see something you’ve worked so hard on for the first time and having your name in the credits was very thrilling,” Williams said.

And for students from both schools, having their project among the 21 selected for the category and participating in the festival was an honor and motivates them even more.

“SXSW was amazing, everyone you met was doing something with their life and they were a huge inspiration,” Mai said. “Attending gave me more of a drive for filmmaking.”

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