Posts Tagged ‘ShortFest 2010’

Student Documentary Screened at ShortFest 2010

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Idyllwild Arts film crew from "The Piano Virtuosos"

By Marcia E. Gawecki

On May 28-29, the Idyllwild Arts Academy screened five short films, and trailers for three documentaries. The students work was well received by those who attended, including the media. The school plans to send the short films to area film festivals for review, however, some films don’t start getting attention until almost a year later.

Case in point: “The Steinway Virtuosos,” a short documentary produced by Idyllwild Arts students last year (2009), is now being screened at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival on June 22-28. ShortFest 2010 will present more than 300 short films from 40 countries.

IA students Amelia (L) and Joel (R) interview a grade school student in one of the piano labs

ShortFest 2010 is known worldwide for its extraordinary community of filmmakers it attracts, and the quality and scope of its programming. In 2005, an Idyllwild Arts student, Alexis Echavarria won the “Audience Choice Award” for “18 Minutes,” a short film about the last 18 minutes of sunlight on earth. The 16-year-old student died before the screening at ShortFest 2009, but a student award has been set up in his name.

His mother has not forgotten Idyllwild Arts and has been generous over the years. In Oct. 2009, she dedicated “Alexis Annex,” a building on the Idyllwild Arts campus, in his name.

“She also donated all of the computers that we used to edit the films this year,” said Dr. Ira Abrams, from the Idyllwild Arts Moving Pictures Department.

Teacher and students in a piano lab sponsored by The Steinway Society

“The Steinway Virtuosos,” the 2009 student documentary, is about a piano contest sponsored by the Steinway Society of Riverside County, a nonprofit organization that helps put music back into California grade schools what government funding has cut over the years.

Ruth Moir, founder and head of the Steinway Society of Riverside County, said that she hopes that her organization will help to nurture interest in music in grade school students. They have set up a “piano lab” targeted at students from third to fifth grade, in which they learn to play on pianos at school and read music.

The Steinway Society also has an outreach program for talented piano students in which some receive piano keyboards to practice at home. Marcos, a grade school student featured in the documentary, came to the Steinway Society by accident. He was called into the principal’s office for tardiness, and saw a piano there. He asked if he could play it, and impressed the principal, who immediately called The Steinway Society.

Emily discusses the next steps with her crew

Up until that time, Moir said, he was playing “by ear” on a broken down old keyboard at a home that he shared with his single mother and sister with special needs. The Steinway Society gave him a new keyboard and music lessons, and within a year, he has learned to read music.

When the Idyllwild Arts crew came to interview him at his home near Palm Desert, he performed “I Will Always Love You,” a song he created for his grandmother who had just passed away. The strength and intensity of his playing hushed them into silence.

Kitty (L) won the Steinway Competition that is featured in the documentary

The documentary crew consisted of Amelia, Emily, Joel, Ben, and Scarlett. Two of them graduated from Idyllwild Arts on June 5. Emily plans to study film, while Amelia wants to try acting in front of the camera in her native Vancouver.¬†Daphne or “Kitty,” who won the piano competition that was featured in “The Steinway Virtuosos” documentary, will study piano in college in the fall.

Other Idyllwild Arts music students and faculty who appear in the video include: Doug Ashcraft, Nelms McKalvin, Ie-Seul, Georgina and Timmy.

When Amelia, the producer, graduated this year, she was unaware of the screening at ShortFest 2010, but knew about its potential to appear on public television.

“Guess I’ll have to wait until it appears on TV,” she said. “That would be pretty exciting.”

Scarlett, who edited “The Steinway Virtuosos” as well as five films this year, said it was one of the most difficult to complete. She was working day and night, right up until the screenings on campus last year.

“It changed direction three times,” Scarlett said, as she groaned, remembering. “It was about the Steinway Society, and then the competition. But, in the end, we were pretty happy with the way it turned out.”

Abrams said that he hopes to attend ShortFest 2010, along with others from the Idyllwild Arts Moving Pictures Department, but the film festival is held during their summer break.

“‘The Steinway Virtuosos’ will be shown in a package appropriately called, ‘Performance Anxiety,’ which screens on Saturday, June 26,” said Dr. Abrams. “There will be nine shorts starting at 1:30 p.m., so our documentary will start an hour later, roughly at 2:30 p.m.”

For more information on ShortFest 2010, visit www.psfilmfest.org, for “18 Minutes,” visit www.alexisechavarria.com, and for attending Idyllwild Arts, visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

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