Student film competition winners hope to inspire others

Ashland Ore.– It was an exciting weekend for young filmmakers in the Rogue Valley after the winners of Ashland Independent Film Festival’s annual student LAUNCH film competition were announced Friday.

The festival’s director of programming calls the winning films fresh, heartfelt, and engaging. The competition was open to students in an eight-county area of Southern Oregon and Northern California, however, all the winners attend school in Jackson County.

Seventh grader Aidan Hawes won the six through eighth grade category for his film Quarter for a Dollar. It Takes More to Play a Game!

“I didn’t know it was going to win,” the 12-year-old said. “When I got the news I couldn’t talk, I was speechless.”

Hawes’ cousin plays the main character in the short movie. All the filming and editing was done on Hawes’ iPhone, something he hopes inspires other young filmmakers.

“If you want to make movies, make movies. There’s nothing stopping you,” he said.

Michelle Branch, a senior at Southern Oregon University, was a winner in the college category for the film Damn, What a Dame.

“We’re extremely honored by the award,” she said. “I think what we’re most excited about is the fact that we get to represent the student part of the film making community here in Southern Oregon.”

Branch said they submitted their film to give others the courage to do the same.

“We really want students to take their films, enter film festivals, and get involved in the filmmaker community,” she said.

Isabel Kapule won in the kindergarten through fifth grade category for Save the Earth. Amelia Sorensen won in the ninth through twelfth grade category with Money Can’t Buy Me Love.

Winning films will be shown during the film festival that begins April 7th.

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