Jennifer Holder’s Spanish 4 classes spent the past three weeks creating short films to compete in a foreign film festival at the University of Central Missouri. The Spanish films were turned in on March 1 and will be judged by April 8.
For the past nine years, the University of Central Missouri has put on a film festival for students in grades six through twelve to showcase their foreign language skills. There are six available genres to enter under: animation, comedy, drama, mystery/thriller, science fiction/fantasy and social justice.
The languages that can be used in the films range from German and Spanish to French and Chinese. Holder’s students made their films in Spanish.
The festival is open to all students within a two hour radius of Georgetown, Missouri, where the university is located. East is approximately an hour northwest of there.
The videos themselves are all diverse. Some are modeled after different story lines, like Titanic or Goldilocks, others are completely original. Senior Bea Workman’s group’s movie is a horror film about a boy, Damien, who dreams he is at East where he experiences unusual things, such as a mysterious presence known as “The Darkness.” Damien then meets a girl named Esperanza, and together they wander around the school looking for answers as to why these strange events are happening to them.
The settings of the films range from the halls of East to the school pool. One group even used a house that is scheduled to be torn down and splattered fake blood on the walls for their murder mystery flick.
The videos are 5-10 minutes long and have to be entirely produced by students.
Senior Sarah Allegri was put in charge of producing and editing her group’s video, and her prior knowledge of Adobe Premiere, a video editing program, helped her edit the backgrounds on the green screen that her group used. Allegri gained her comprehension of the editing program because she is in the video announcements class.
The entries are submitted into three different levels: elementary, intermediate and advanced. The elementary level is for the first two years of the language study, intermediate is the third year and advanced is the fourth year. From Holder’s three Spanish 4 classes, there are 10-12 entries that will all be evaluated in the advanced category.
Holder was first introduced to this competition by a Spanish teacher at Shawnee Mission South, who won the “Best Spanish Film” category two years ago. This will be Holder’s first time having her students participate, but she plans to do it again.
South is the only other school in the district entering in the Spanish category, and the students have made it their goal to bring the South-East rivalry beyond the football fields and basketball courts and into the classrooms.
“Shawnee Mission South has submitted movies so it would be great to beat them,” Workman said. “Also, who wouldn’t want to beat South?”
To Señora Holder, the competition is more than just learning and improving Spanish. It is a chance to win.
“I’m all about the winning. I don’t just want to play, I want to win,” Holder said. “If [we] win, we are going to have a piñata, and if [we] win, we’ll have a party.”
While the promises of bragging rights for a year and a personalized plaque are a plus, the experience of using Spanish outside of the typical classroom environment is the whole purpose of the competition.
“I’m hoping that students will get to see Spanish used in an everyday setting, more than just on pencil or paper,” Holder said.