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Murray Journal

Best teen, preteen films showcased at Salt Lake County’s Youth Film Festival

Jun 02, 2023 09:24AM ● By Julie Slama

Eleven of Salt Lake County’s top youth filmmakers watched their films debut on the big screen with friends and family.

At an invitation-only event at the Megaplex at Valley Fair Mall, this year’s Salt Lake County Youth Film Festival student-winners came to the front of the auditorium, invited to speak and accept their prizes.  

“Coming out of these heavier years with the pandemic and having to really push the film festival forward in a virtual format, the first thing I wanted to do was make sure that that our event was in-person,” said Abbey Summers, Salt Lake County health educator who oversaw the film festival. “And I thought what’s a better way to show these films for these young filmmakers than on the big screen?”

Sitting back, with provided concessions, the audience watched the short films ranging from breakfast ideas to inclusivity in sports. 

All the films focused on the theme, “I advocate.”

“I wanted to have a strong theme. A big part of public health and what we do is, especially with youth, is trying to teach them about policy change and advocacy because these things are hugely instrumental in moving public health forward. Through the film festival, we’ve allowed teens to create films around some of those topics that are important to them. With this year’s theme, we encouraged them to think about health topics that were important to them and how they could advocate for change or a way to make it better; or how they could utilize resources in their community or in their schools to teach others. I feel the participants shined this year in showing us their advocacy and what is important to them,” she said about the fifth annual student film contest.

The films were judged by health educators, community health workers, youth services staff and others, they were ranked according to the contest rules in advocacy, originality, filmmaking elements, inclusivity and more, Summers said.

The winner of the Judge’s Choice award went to Sundance Canyon Academy senior Anthony Ashton for his film, “Resources;” Best Advocate Award to Skyline High junior Anna Liu for her film, “I Advocate for Mental Health;” Inclusivity Advocacy Winner to Highland High sophomore Kanye Saunders for “I Advocate for Inclusivity in Sports;” Best Original Film to Granger High senior James Ngyuen for his film “I Advocate for More Sleep;” Best Filmmaking Elements to Hillcrest High senior Abigail Slama-Catron for her film “Advocasee;” Best Theme Relevance to Corner Canyon freshman Maya Yrungaray for her film “3 Easy Breakfast Ideas;” First Runner-up to Sundance Canyon Academy freshman JD Martin for his film, “Temptations of Peer Pressure;” Group Advocacy Winner to Rowland Hall junior Eric Lu and Waterford School junior Shayan Pandit for their film, “Healthier and More Accessible School Lunches;” and Best Lower Division Winner to Salt Lake Arts Academy seventh-graders Aliya Saunders and Anna Peregrine for their film, “Living Life to the Fullest.”

The evening concluded with a private movie screening of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” as well. 

“We wanted to make the event an opportunity to showcase their films and be really fun and family friendly,” Summers said. “I loved the films that were submitted this year.” λ