I'm going to let you in on one of the best entertainment values in town: the
The youth showcase, a regular feature of the festival since 2005, is a collection of short films made entirely by kids. High-school graduates need not apply.
This year, the festival has selected 20 entries — out of about 125 submitted — that will screen at 6 p.m. Sunday at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa. Admission is free.
I make a point of trying to attend the showcase every year, and it never fails to delight. I'm so enamored with this event that I hesitated before deciding to write about it because I've long considered the show put on by these talented teenagers to be my little secret, and I selfishly want to be sure of getting a seat.
The films, while raw and amateurish, are also wonderfully creative and promising, and often contain nuggets of pure, unpracticed brilliance. The enthusiasm and excitement displayed by the young Spielbergs-to-be is downright infectious.
"Some are school films, some are just a teen with a camera," said Leslie Feibleman, the festival's director of special programs. "You can tell they're really passionate about their subjects."
Feibleman, a busy Newport Beach mom and an unpaid volunteer who organizes the youth showcase each year, is equally passionate about the teenagers' projects. When I asked her why she's so committed, she laughed.
"My husband asks me that, too," she said. "I don't get my nails done, but I love doing this. We are helping to keep the arts alive in the community."
The selection always includes an array of genres, including
Yet another, a moving documentary called "Untouchable," which chronicled the plight of a group of outcasts in India who are denied basic human rights.
The youth showcase is sponsored by the trendy clothing maker
Many past participants have landed acceptances at top-ranked film schools, including
Though entries come in from around the world, not surprisingly a large number of the films selected are from
The current crop of films includes "Wake Up!" that mixes live action with animation; "Poetic Justice Project," a documentary about formerly incarcerated artists who find redemption through a theater group; and "Flags," a dialogue-free piece that uses visual imagery and music to promote peace.
I'm looking forward to seeing "It Happened One Afternoon," a romantic comedy produced by a group of students from various schools who attended an arts program at Pepperdine University last summer. One of those student filmmakers is Katherine Nagasawa, a Sage Hill senior, who celebrated her 18th birthday Wednesday.
Nagasawa recalled how the group crowded around a computer late one night and brainstormed, eventually agreeing on the concept for the film and collaborating on the screenplay.
The story involves a couple of teenagers who video chat, and as the boy falls in love he fantasizes about being a movie hero, such as
"It was amazing," she said. "Film was something I was always interested in, but now I'm thinking of it as a career."
She plans to double major in film, radio and television, and "something else" — she hasn't decided yet — when she attends
I imagine that someday I just might come across Nagasawa's name, or those of the other young filmmakers, while watching the credits roll at the end of a movie or TV show. And I'll remember that they got their start here, when the Newport Beach Film Festival gave them their first big break.