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Monday, May 16, 2011

Westport Youth Film Fest Stars in Downtown Fairfield

Westport Youth Film Fest Stars 
in Downtown Fairfield:
Celebrates the work of 
more than 50 filmmakers
By Mike Lauterborn
(posted to
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – It was the local area’s answer to a Hollywood red carpet event, with filmmakers, musicians, event sponsors, organizers and an excited public all mingling in and about the historic theater.

For the better part of the day Saturday, the eighth annual Westport Youth Film Festival (WYFF), presented by the Westport Arts Center, was conducted at Fairfield’s downtown Community Theatre at the base of Unquowa Road. There, 50 local and international youth films selected from more than 200 entries were shown, while live music, panel discussions and workshops were conducted adjacent to the event site.

Roaming the site with a two-way radio, managing and overseeing activities, was Matt Kalmans, 17, a senior at Weston High School and the Festival’s director. “This is the culmination of nine months of work,” he said. “Twenty students from six different schools are involved as organizers, with support from an advisory board of industry professionals and community members. I’m thankful that the rain is holding off. We’re glad to be back here at the Community Theatre now that renovations have been completed.”

Standing nearby, Scott Fishoff of Graphis Studio, Stamford, said, “We helped design the Fest program and worked on the website. We couldn’t be prouder of the Fest. It’s amazing with all the balloons and bands, really terrific.”

Greeting supporters, Weston filmmaker Alex Fjellberg Swerdlowe noted that he had two films that made the Fest program, titled “Consequential Lies”, a drama, and “Friends Like These”, a horror film. “Typically, I do dramas,” he said. “The horror film was a departure. I always wanted to try it. Filmmaking is like painting – you want to try different mediums. ‘Consequential Lies’ premiered here three weeks ago to great response.”

Just wrapping up a music set, Cyrus Thomas-Walker, the bass guitarist of the Hartford-based band Move Out West, said, “We’re currently on tour. This is the other side of Connecticut for us. We’re glad to support the Fest. It’s a great crowd, good location and an excellent arts scene.”

Beside him, Brett Bassock, the 18-year-old director of the band’s music video “I’m All Smiles”, which was shown at the Fest, said, “I’ve been producing and directing films since fourth grade. I’ve known about the Fest for years and had been interested in being in it. I recognized they had a music video category and that it would be a good opportunity for exposure. The fact this is run by kids my age is really incredible.”

Another director, Joey DePasquale, 17, of Weston, was entertaining a few friends in front of Las Vetas Lounge. “I directed ‘Tilt’ and was involved behind the scenes on two other films,” he said. “This is my first time in this Fest… I’m really excited. ‘Tilt’ showed in the U.K. last year, but I wasn’t able to attend, so I’m anxious to see how a local crowd reacts.”

Set up at a table in front of Arts Place, Deanna Foster, Interim Executive Director of the Westport Arts Center, said, “We are thrilled to provide this unique venue for young filmmakers, to be recognized for their extraordinary work. The Center is a visual and performing arts organization. One of the founders of the Fest, Emma Weisman, is the daughter of Eileen Weisman, who was the Executive Director of the Center at the time. Emma brought the idea to her mom, which was the seed for the Fest. We’ve nurtured this over the past eight years. We believe in film as a visual art. And it’s the only youth-run film festival in the world.”  

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