A dash of Hollywood came to the Cayman Islands on Friday, 31 May, as young filmmakers were delivered by limousine to the Harquail Theatre for a red carpet premiere.
It was the “Youth Film Fest”, where the top films from two film competitions were screened, and the winners announced.
The Cayman National Cultural Foundation partnered with the Department of Tourism to co-produce the event.
Students, ages 10 to 17, had the opportunity to participate in the “Young Image Makers Short Film Competition” and the Department of Tourism’s “Cayman Through My Eyes” competition.
Students were asked to produce films between one and three minutes in length, filmed with their cameras, phones, Go Pros or other recording devices.
“We’ve seen many different kinds of entries over the years in terms of quality, as some students have access to better equipment and editing programmes than others,” said Rita Estevanovich, CNCF programmes manager. “However, a child’s creativity and his or her ability to tell a story and capture the audience’s imagination is what we focus on. I applaud the teachers who take the time to work with their students on films, and who allow the them to use their personal equipment to make their pieces. Overall, the students have done well, particularly with this being the first time some of them have ever put together a short film. With time and practice, we will see great improvements in our students’ work.”
Of the more than 70 submissions received, 20 were selected from the Young Image Makers competition and 10 from Cayman Through My Eyes. The directors of these films went on to participate in special film making workshops. They then had the opportunity to improve on their films, or create entirely new ones.
The submissions for the Young Image Makers competition, for which no topic was specified, ranged from comedies to horror films and some documentary-style films. Meanwhile, some of the Cayman Through My Eyes films showcased the natural wonders of the islands, while others focused on the people, music and culture.
Both competitions were divided into two age groups, 10 to 13 and 14 to 17, and winners, first and second runners up were announced for each age category and competition.
The winners were Matthew Whittaker (YIM 14 to 17) for “Sheol”, Marianne McMurdo (YIM 10 to 13) for “Once Decision, Two Fates”; Mark Westin (CTME 14-17) for “Living on a Rock, in the Sea” and Harriet Richardson (CTME 10-13) for “Cracking Cayman Coconuts”.
The public was also able to view the films online and cast votes for both competitions. The People’s Choice awards in both instances went to Mark Westin, for “Living on a Rock, in the Sea”.
The first prize winners in each category win a scholarship to the New York Film Academy this summer, where they will spend a week honing their filmmaking skills and learning about the different roles available in the industry.