New Canaan teen Caroline Keller will have her film "Not on the Sidelines: The Women of ESPN" shown at the All-American High School Film Festival at AMC Theaters in Times Square, New York, this weekend, joining 80 other selections from around the country.
Keller, who's now a freshman at Tulane University, made the film in her creative filmmaking class at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich this year.
The film is a short documentary, about 4 minutes long, featuring three female employees of ESPN discussing what it's like to work in a male-dominated industry.
"The whole process was really inspiring," Keller said. "These women gave me a new perspective on how to go about being in an industry that is male-centric, and that you can't let the fear of it being that way stop you. It's really all about the passion and love of sports."
"My favorite part had to be spending a whole day at ESPN," said Hascher, who plays for the Northwestern varsity soccer team and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week last month. "The campus is unbelievable. The women we talked to were great, as two girls who were looking to get into a similar field. It was just an all-around great day of filming."
The All-American High School Film Festival is in its 10th year, but its first with such a high profile. It was started in Hendrick Hudson High School in Montrose, N.Y., by then-16-year-old student Andrew Jenks as a way to show the films he and his friends made. As the years went on, he received more and more submissions, and the festival became more of a prestigious event, Jenks said.
"It expanded from when I was younger and wanted an outlet to show other than my parents' basement for my movies," said Jenks, who's now a documentary filmmaker. He has a show, "World of Jenks," on MTV, and has had documentaries air on HBO and ESPN.
This year, the festival received more than 1,000 submissions and is offering prizes in 18 categories. The prizes range from meeting actors and producers to scholarships and editing software. The event will also include a fair featuring 15 colleges displaying their film and producing programs. Judges in the festival include Diablo Cody, who wrote the film "Juno;" Kristin Stewart, who had a lead role in the "Twilight" saga; and Morgan Spurlock, who created the documentary "Super Size Me." The festival is backed by CNN, the Huffington Post, MTV and several other businesses and many universities.
"There aren't many national high school film festivals," Jenks said, explaining the event's ascendance. "Being in a movie theater and seeing your work encourages young people to keep doing. It makes a difference to see something you worked so hard on to be on a big screen."
Jenks said Keller's and Hascher's subject of women in a male-dominated industry is applicable for entertainment as well as sports. He said that while 50 percent of the selections at his film fest come from girls, only 4.4 percent of Hollywood directors are female.
Convent of the Sacred Heart has two other girls from the class whose films were selected: Shelby Holland and Georgina Cahill. The teacher of the filmmaking class, Ellyn Stewart, said she was proud of all her students, and was impressed by Keller and Hascher's work.
"It was clear they asked good questions about how each woman felt in their role, and managed to include some humor as well as informing the audience," she said. "I was very excited for them and it's an honor for them to be recognized."
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