Grafton High submissions chosen for state film festival

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Students at work on the set of "Tragically Crazy." From left to right: Kirsten James, Lucas Grigorian, Chloe DeWees, Matthew Moniuszko, Michael Hoffman, Zaria Edlow and Shae Bent. (Courtesy Josie Sevilla)
Students at work on the set of “Tragically Crazy” are, from left, Kirsten James, Lucas Grigorian, Chloe DeWees, Matthew Moniuszko, Michael Hoffman, Zaria Edlow and Shae Bent. (Photo by Josie Sevilla)

Two films submitted by Grafton High School students have been selected to appear in the Virginia High School League’s annual film festival, which will take place June 3 and 4 at Virginia Commonwealth University.

High school filmmakers from 42 schools across the commonwealth submitted 93 films for consideration. Only 36 have been designated as “official selections” that will be screened during the festival.

Both of Grafton’s official selections are the products of the school’s Film Society, which was founded in 2014 and boasts a membership of about 30 students, according to Spanish teacher and club sponsor Josie Sevilla.

About 16 club members were involved in the two productions that have been chosen for the festival.

“Tragically Crazy,” written and directed by junior Chloe DeWees, has been selected to compete in the narrative category. The film tells the story of a young girl struggling to deal with reality during an epidemic.

The documentary selection “What Makes You Tic” was written and directed by senior Aurora Wilkins. It shares the journey of a high school student with Tourette’s Syndrome navigating daily life and coming up with strategies to deal with her disability.

Matt Moniuszko, a sophomore and the club president, served as director of photography on both films.

During its weekly meetings, Film Society members learn about script writing, character development and the technical aspects of filmmaking.

“The students do a lot of the teaching,” Sevilla said. “One week, a student will present on framing, eye-line and camera angles. The next week, another student teaches everyone to use our school software for digital animation.”

Club members will travel to Richmond for the festival next month, but they’re already hard at work on a film they plan to submit for next year’s festival.

“The students have amazed me with their dedication and willingness to work hard for what they want,” Sevilla said. “Sometimes I worry that the meetings are like having another class, after school, but they keep coming because they want to learn.”

The film festival is open to the public. Click here for ticket information.