Students capture effects of the pandemic through film

(Photo courtesy of © CanStockPhoto.com/ zurijeta)

Fewer films were submitted into this year’s Lambton Youth Short Film competition but more students were eager to participate in a virtual training program.

Nineteen films from high school students in Lambton-Kent were submitted into this year’s competition through the Lambton Film and Food Festival (LaFFF), which is less than the record 38 films submitted last year. Students could enter films in a variety of categories that were up to three minutes in length.

The recently announced winners are listed below and the short films can be viewed on the Forest Optimist Club’s YouTube channel.

Ron Van Horne and Scott Ferguson of the Optimist Club of Forest said many of the films entered into this year’s contest were a little “darker” than previous years as they focused on frustrations teenagers face during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re adults in our late 50s and early 60s and we can get out of touch a bit,” said Van Horne. “You forget sometimes what it’s like to be 15 and 16, how exciting that can be, and how different COVID can be when you take away the opportunity to just be yourself.”

Van Horne said they did have a record number of students participate in virtual training sessions this year. For the last six years, students have been able to take part in classes led by “Film in a Day” instructors (formerly from TIFF).

“We did virtual workshops for just under 100 students this year which is roughly double the number of students we normally have,” said Van Horne. “The students worked in classes, in groups of three or four students each and they made films using really basic technology.”

Since schools have been closed, Van Horne said students were not able to access high-tech filming equipment this year. He suspects that the increase in training sessions this year will reflect on numbers next year as well.

“We had a good turnout. We had six or seven films from Chatham-Kent (Ursuline College Chatham). We’re starting to broaden out to a wider area of the Lambton-Kent district,” said Ferguson.

Northern Collegiate Institute & Vocational School, St. Patrick’s Catholic High School and North Lambton Secondary School participated in the competition as well.

Although the LaFFF has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, a component of the event, the “shorts competition”, will proceed. There will be a public viewing of the budding filmmakers this Fall but an exact date has yet to be determined.

“The Kineto Theatre in town is being renovated by the Kiwanis Club and the community has broadly supported it. They’re very anxious to be able to show it off,” said Van Horne. “One of the first events we want to hold as a community is the film festival, the student youth training portion of it.”

The results from this year’s competition are listed below. Each film that won was awarded $400. Ferguson said prize money goes to the individual student but some of the films were done by multiple students as part of a class project. In past years, Ferguson said prize money awarded to classrooms would be used for trips or something that would benefit the students.

Documentary: Distanced by St. Patrick’s Catholic High School.

Drama: I Told You So by North Lambton Secondary School Forest.

Other: Quarantine Kid by St. Patrick’s Catholic High School

Comedy: Hard Drive by Ursuline College Chatham.

Animation: Food Fight by Northern Collegiate Sarnia.

Music Video: FreeBritney by St. Patrick’s Catholic High School

Music/Animation: Shake It by Northern Collegiate Sarnia.