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First-time filmmakers, GFS students wrote & directed 6-minute shorts and screened them at LACMA last month. Photo courtesy of GFS.

Standing in front of a full audience in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) theatre, Ghetto Film School LA (GFSLA) Program Coordinator Alvy Johnson welcomed everyone, “I’m guessing half of you are friends and family of our young filmmakers. And half of you are community members who saw us on the internet and thought this would be a cool way to spend your evening.”

It was a lovely evening in September for this year’s annual GFS LA Fellows Screening that showcased the work created by the young filmmakers who had most recently attended the program.  Alvy introduced the screening with an explanation of what GFS is and why it matters for the future of Hollywood. New to Los Angeles, GFS allows young people of every background — a few of whom are HOLA students — an early entry course in the art of filmmaking.

As GFS’ New York legend begins, “Once upon a time, there was a storefront in Hunts Point where neighborhood teens, working with a graduate school curriculum, made movies. And they were good. Real good.”

The auditorium lights soon dimmed and the 10 short narratives played. While the films were required six-minute runtimes and dialogue-free screenplays , they accomplished things that every writer and director works relentlessly to achieve: to evoke an audience. Offering a window into young people’s minds, the films painted characters that made the audience invest in their stories. “The Bridge” tugged at hearts as the audience watched a girl visit, at a very opportune moment, the place where someone she loved lost his life. Contrastingly, “Awkward Love” amused as a boy who, coyfully yet unsuccessfully, tests strategies for winning a girl inspired by classic Rom-Com’s. A girl who learns to follow her own muse in “Art Contest” and “A Quiet Night” featured a suspense twist story when a daughter tries to sneak back into her house while being unknowingly shadowed.

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After the screening, young GFS fellows engage in a Q&A session about their work. Photo courtesy of GFS.

The credits finished rolling and Elvis Mitchell, Curator at Film Independent at LACMA, led a Q&A with the students. Afterwords, the top three films were awarded scholarship prizes from a jury comprised of leading film industry professionals. And when all was said and done, the audience initiated a standing ovation in praise of the the young filmmakers’ triumphs – regardless if they were a family member or a stranger.

As GFS’s legend closes, “Now, in a far off province of palm trees and sunshine, a new group of teens are writing their own script.”

Welcome home GFS LA.

 
 
 

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HOLA provides underserved youth with exceptional programs in academics, arts and athletics within a nurturing environment, empowering them to develop their potential, pursue their education and strengthen their communities.


 

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