Early April marked the end of the 2022 Aspen ShortsFest. This week-long festival celebrates curated short films that stand to earn various awards. This year, I had the extraordinary honor of being selected to join the Youth Jury.
The Youth Jury is made up of young people from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, with two exceptions from Denver and New York. From April 5 through April 10 we met via Zoom to discuss over 40 films we viewed for the purpose.
During these one or two hour sessions, I experienced some of the most meaningful conversations in my life. My love for film is not something I always have the opportunity to share. There are very few people I know personally that thrive off of film the way I do, and getting to meet other aspiring filmmakers was truly eye-opening.
In each meeting, the goal was to bring forth what the group saw as the best films. Discussions were based around everything from cinematography, storytelling, editing and whatever else stood out about a particular selection. By the end of the week, we needed to find one film that we felt connected to youth, but was also an overall amazing film.
After narrowing down the list, we chose “Enjoy” directed by Saul Abraham as the winner. The story follows the struggles of depression through an adult’s perspective, while also reflecting on the same diagnosis for a child. With all ages of audiences able to connect to the theme of understanding depression, and how it affects people differently, this story rose to the top. The skillful use of color theory and cinematography also contributed to the technical aspect of the film beautifully, which also led to our conclusion.
The Zoom calls were always engaging, but truly my favorite part of this experience was attending the awards dinner at the end of the week. At this event I had the privilege of meeting many new and wonderful people, from various directors to the fabulous people behind hosting the Shortsfest. Being surrounded by people that have come together to celebrate all things film was exhilarating.
Along with all that, I got to meet two of my peers in-person for the first time. Sitting behind a screen is limiting, and having in-person conversations made for an incredible night. Bonding with people closer to my age over a topic we all feel passionate about, as I mentioned previously, is not something that I have experienced often. Having someone else light up over talking about a simple concept like camera framing was exciting. This opportunity gave me the ability to find other people with the same love for discussing and creating films.
As a soon-to-be cinema studies major, this opportunity opened my eyes to the reality of my future. Meeting new people and beginning to discover what it means to get involved in the world of film started for me with the Youth Jury. This invitation has helped initiate me into what I will be able to accomplish as I start to grow as a filmmaker.