Oak Park, River Forest students win environmental film awards

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By Maria Maxham

Staff Reporter

Oak Park and River Forest students won big in the One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest and will officially be recognized with awards on Saturday, March 7 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St. in Chicago.

There were 196 entries in this year's contest, with submissions from Hawaii to Massachusetts. Nineteen professional filmmakers and environmental activists awarded top prizes and honorable mentions to 19 films, and seven local students will be recognized at the awards presentation.

Student entrants were asked to make a three to eight-minute environmental film about one of six sustainability topics: food, energy, transportation, waste, water or open space/ecosystems. They were tasked with presenting a problem and at least one solution. Films had to be a minimum of 45 seconds long.

Elementary School First Prize was a tie, with sisters Zoë and Jada Nevels, third and second graders at Mann Elementary School, winning with their film "We Can All Help the Earth." Their film was a combination of stop-motion, green-screen and live action that explained how electricity is produced, the dangers of using too much fossil fuel, and what each of us can do to reduce our carbon footprint. Their film will be screened at 10:30 a.m. on March 7 at the awards ceremony.

Elementary school honorable mention went to Grady Roderweiss-O'Brien, a fourth grader from Beye School. His film, "The Impossible Way," looks at the environmental impact of giving up meat and will screen as part of the One Earth Film Festival before the feature film at 3 p.m. on March 14 at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St.

In the middle school category, an honorable mention was given to the film "The Shortage of Helium" by seventh grader Samantha Older from Roosevelt Middle School in River Forest. Her project investigates the little-known issue of a diminishing supply of helium, a non-renewable resource, which is predicted to run out in 20 to 30 years. 

Seventh grade Roosevelt Middle School students Marin Shalmers and Daniela Arezina won an animation prize for their film "Walking for a Happier Earth." Their three-minute stop-motion film showed how pollutive cars can be, not just when driven but before purchase and after they are scrapped. Their film can be viewed on March 7 at 10:30 at the awards ceremony.

At the college level, which included grade 12 of high school, an honorable mention was given to Oak Park and River Forest High School student Taylor Anderson, who collaborated with students from Maine South and Lake Forest High Schools to make a five-minute film titled "Feeding the Future of Chicago." The high school students interviewed people who are supporting sustainable food practices in Chicago, from planting community gardens to sourcing local produce at restaurants to composting food waste. 

More information about the One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest can be found online at oneearthfilmfest.org.

Maria Maxham

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