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Films by Teens Featured at Festival

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By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

May 12, 2014 -- Young people from the area and throughout the world will flex their cinematic muscle at the ninth annual Santa Monica Teen Film Festival, which will take place June 7 and 8 at the Miles Memorial Playhouse and the main public library.

This free event will feature nearly 50 short film of the more than 300 submissions received.

“Films have been submitted from cities across the United States as well as India, Spain, Ireland, Australia, Mexico and England,” said Justin Yoffe, director of the city-owned Miles Playhouse. “Almost half of this year’s selected films were made by young filmmakers right here in Santa Monica and L.A. County.”

The first session, which is rated PG-13 due to some mature themes, will take place June 7 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Miles Playhouse, located at 1130 Lincoln Blvd. This block of films includes some of the longer works, including a 30-minute documentary about Skid Row called “Hope for Our Own” made by 16-year-old Los Angeles native Riley Beres.

The session will also feature an Irish drama called “Punch,” which is described as “along the lines of ‘Million Dollar Baby’” about an Irish teen that turns to boxing to help her deal with family problems.

The second screening will take place later that night from 7 to 9 p.m. also at the Miles Playhouse, and is suitable for sixth graders and older, according to City officials. There will be refreshments and snacks available between the first and second screenings for those who wish to stay.

The second block of films will feature more mature-themed stories, including an animated movie called “Tough ‘Ombres” made by Brandon Bjornson of Pacific Palisades.

“We’ll also screen two extremely powerful films from Spain, ‘La Razon Ciega’ and ‘Interferencias’ by young filmmaker Lucia Conde,” Yoffe said. “Saturday evening will also feature a slate of excellent films made by students from Santa Monica High School.”

The final screening will take place the following day from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Santa Monica Main Public Library's MLK Auditorium, located at 601 Santa Monica Blvd. This screening is open to people of all ages.

This session will feature several animated works, including films made by students at New Roads High School, such as a comedic claymation piece called “Graham and Sammy” by Tiana Marsh and a three-minute music video by Cris Rosales called “Diminishing Returns.”

The awards ceremony will immediately follow Sunday’s screening at 4 p.m., and more than a dozen awards will be presented for “Best of the Fest,” “Best Animation,” “Best Documentary,” “Best Music / Video Experimental” and “Best Live Action.”

“We will also be giving out an audience choice award after each screening,” Yoffe said. “The winner of this award will be voted on by the live audience immediately following each screening.”

A special category this year is “The Santa Monica Budding Filmmaker Award,” which will go to the best “local” film, with the winner receiving a three-week scholarship to the Relativity School of Film, Media and the Performing Arts Summer Intensive “Relativity Workshop.”

Another special category is the “Red Cross Emergency Preparedness” award, given to the film that best features the theme of emergency preparedness and is supported by Santa Monica Red Cross.

For more information about the film festival or to make a reservation, email, call Justin Yoffe at (310) 458-8634 or go to Facebook at

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