Germantown Academy’s Film Now Festival spotlights teen filmmakers

2016 Film Now finalist filmmakers. (Photo courtesy of Germantown Academy)

Philadelphia prep school Germantown Academy is gearing up for its second annual Film Now Festival.

The festival celebrates the school’s digital media program and features submissions from high school students from all over the world. Last year, the Film Now Festival received submissions from China, Canada, England, Mexico, Latvia, and Greece. This year, the festival’s project manager, Adam McGrath, expects to double that number.

Set apart with universal language

“Film is amazing because it is a universal language that also boasts unique characteristics rooted in culture,” McGrath says. “By comparing similarities and differences among filmmakers of the same generation, our audience is treated to a diverse map of current tastes and influences.”

Germantown Academy wanted to create an international festival to differentiate themselves from other festivals in the area. “By opening the festival to international submissions, it broadens the potential to showcase the most compelling and innovative films from this age group,” McGrath explains.

But the festival also recognizes the significance of local community involvement and support. This year they’re adding a Tri-State showcase, featuring honorable mentions from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. “We want to show more films and encourage those filmmakers who are local to attend the festival and make connections with their peers,” says McGrath.

Sophisticated work

McGrath and the staff and teachers at Germantown Academy have high expectations for this year’s submissions, especially after last year’s performances. “I have sat in juries for college programs where the work was not nearly as sophisticated,” says Visual Arts Department Head and Director of Innovation & Special Programs Gaby Russomagno, who helped with the planning of the festival. “Equally impressive was the range of imaginative and weighty subject matter that gives me great heart about this generation.” (You can catch the 2016 finalist films here.)

Entries for the Film Now Festival can be submitted online from January 5, 2017 at 12pm EST to February 28, 11:59pm EST. Submissions must be in a digital format and run for under five minutes, excluding credits. Submitters must be enrolled in a high school for the 2016-17 school year.

The results

There will be nine finalists overall, with first, second, and third place prizes in three categories of film: Narrative, Documentary, and Experimental. One overall prize will then be awarded to one of the finalists.

The submissions will be judged by Tony Pitone, an assistant editor at Laika Stop Motion Animation Studio; documentary filmmaker Cameron Yates; Natalie Difford, head of filmmaker development at Cinereach; and founder and CEO of Padcaster Josh Apter.

The Film Now Festival will culminate in a screening of the nine finalist films and the Tri-State Showcase winners on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 3pm at the Ambler Theater, 108 E. Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA.