Last night, the Purser Center at Logan College of Chiropractic in Chesterfield was the site of the Parkway Digital Film Festival. Hundreds of students from across the Parkway School District came out to celebrate the event that showcased more than 200 student-made films.
“I think it’s neat that kids can use new technology to show their views,” said Aaron Wills, the principal of Claymont Elementary School in Ballwin.
This is the third year that the event has taken place. It was originally conceived as a way to help teach students about technology and media and to familiarize themselves with modern tools of movie making. In addition to the education aspect of the films, the night also served as a fun event for students to be treated like Hollywood royalty. The entrance to the theater was decorated with a red carpet to give students who made films a chance to experience life as a movie star.
Movies were divided into elementary and secondary divisions based on the ages of the students, and each category was screened at a different time. The theater was filled nearly to capacity as hundreds of students, friends and families attended to watch 40 movies produced by elementary students.
The movies varied in their content and presentation. Some were educational and presented fun ways of teaching typical school subjects such as grammar and science. Others were much more story-driven, and several were adaptations of short books written and illustrated by the filmmakers. Some dealt with serious topics, such as slavery.
“Knowing that I was going to be on a big screen was really neat,” said Tori Fischer, a second-grader from Ballwin who attends Claymont. The film that Tori helped create examined the various points of view regarding the destruction of the rainforest.
“It was really hard to memorize all of our lines,” Tory said regarding her performance.
While there were no awards given such as the coveted Palme D’Or at the Cannes International Film Festival, students who participated were entered in a raffle for various technological prizes. Included were digital picture frames, USB drives and an Xbox video game system. The awards continued the theme of technology awareness at the festival.
Things did not end with the festival. In conjunction with the local higher education channel, the films will be broadcast on the airwaves starting June 3 and will be re-run every Friday throughout the summer. In addition, all of the films featured will be posted to Parkway's internal computer system, so students can watch them whenever they like.