Greg Harris Film Festival spotlights student filmmakers

Tenth annual festival features variety of talented filmmakers

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Back to Article

Greg Harris Film Festival spotlights student filmmakers

Spahr and Phillips celebrate their Harris Awards for “Flying Colors”

Spahr and Phillips celebrate their Harris Awards for “Flying Colors”


Spahr and Phillips celebrate their Harris Awards for “Flying Colors”



Spahr and Phillips celebrate their Harris Awards for “Flying Colors”

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On April 26, the tenth annual Greg Harris Film Festival took place at the Wilmette Theater, showcasing a variety of student-produced films.

Any New Trier student had the opportunity to submit a one-to-six minute film to the festival and win an award from one of the ten categories, ranging from Best Dialogue to Best WTF Film.

Students also can take part in the 72-hour Film Race. Submissions must be completed within this time period and must have contained three secret elements: a light being turned on, somebody saying the phrase, “You forgot about one thing…,”and a water bottle.

This year, senior Lucy Spahr’s film “Bon Vivant” about cake-decorator Emily Nijad, won the Best Film award.

Spahr, who has submitted films to the festival both her junior and senior years, said, “It’s a film festival celebrating student’s work just from New Trier, and it’s great knowing that at our school there are kids doing everything from directing, filming, song-writing, and acting.”

English teacher Chris Oetter, who has been helping organize the festival since its inception in 2008, noted the increase in popularity of the festival.

At the beginning, about 20 films were entered into the festival. Now, close to 35 to 40 films are submitted every year.

The variety of categories that students can win awards in is one of the key draws of the festival.

“Categories don’t just include the best film of a certain genre. It helps include films of all varieties,” said sophomore Jules Brown.

Brown, who began making films in 8th grade, enjoys the innovative aspects that filmmaking involves. Although she began in front of the camera with acting and theatre, she soon realized that “being behind a camera gives you a lot more creative freedom.”

Film submissions varied in type. For example, Spahr also submitted a music video titled “Flying Colors,” written and produced by senior Nathan Yamaguchi and sung by senior Piper Phillips.

Freshman Lilia Rose Osborne won the Rookie of the Fest award for her film, “The Loarkehnboarg,” about a family dealing with the lost hopes from living in a post-apocalyptic world.

“Film is simply the extension of words written in a book, and as a writer, I think the way you can express a message or share ideas through the art of film is just really captivating,” said Osborne.

The majority of the dialogue in the film is in what is known as a conlag, a made-up language. Osborne called her language Angg-Losh, and left viewers to interpret what the title means.

“It gave students the center stage and made me feel like what I was doing was important and being recognized.”

The award for Best Experimental Film went to senior Ryder Vassilos and his short, “The Infinity Complex.”

Vassilos emphasized the significance of the festival showing student-work on the big screen.

Based on the audience’s reactions, he added, “It’s also a great indicator to the filmmaker of what they could improve upon.”

“It’s so affirming. Kids who put in so much time into their movies get to see them in the theater,” said Oetter.

The theater was almost completely filled, with about 110 people in attendance.

Junior Olivia Luna centered her film, “No New Messages,” around a common phenomenon. The film follows “Two people who like each other, but are too petty to text the other first,” she said.

The festival is named in celebration of former English teacher, Greg Harris, who created the film class at New Trier.

The central excitement of the festival is for students to see their work on such a massive scale as a movie theater screen.

“Getting to go and see your work played on the big screen is just so incredible. You’re seeing all your hard work pay off,” said Osborne.

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