News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 05/25/2007
Subject :

Student Filmmakers’ Winning Work Examines Environmental Issues
With Humor, a How-To Spirit, and Hope in 2nd Annual Earth Day Film Festival
Contact : Amanda Cox, GREENLIGHT Earth Day Film Festival Committee, City of Palo Alto, Utilities Department    650-329-2417
Palo Alto, CA – The second annual GREENLIGHT Earth Day Film Festival awarded nearly $5,000 in prizes to 18 South Bay students and three adults for their exploration of environmental citizenship through films, public service announcements, and documentaries. Nine winning works were screened at last night’s Festival gala, a carbon-neutral event held here at Cubberley Community Theatre.

The Festival emphasizes student-produced work – "odes to the planet," according to one teacher. Festival planners praised the "poise and articulateness" of the winners, noting with appreciation that the environmental themes of entries this year are considerably broader than last year, when the filmmakers concentrated largely on recycling.

The 2007 winners approached their material with humor, a how-to spirit, and hope. The "Best of Festival" award and $500 cash prize went to the team that won in the high school category:

Aja Mathews, Caroline Hodge, Kait Macknick and Emily Viggiano, Gunn High School, Palo Alto, "10 Simple Steps to Make Your Life More GREEN," variety genre. This high-spirited group effort counts the easy ways to make a difference, from using cloth shopping bags and your own watermbottle to recycling electronics components and buying compact fluorescent light bulbs. Speaking directly into the camera, members of the Environmental Club and student body relate facts such
as, "Americans buy two billion single-serve water bottles per year." Outtakes run with the credits.

These students, all juniors, mapped out the treatment and length they sought, then researched and wrote about their subject. Filming occurred with an ordinary digital camcorder, said filmmaker Kait Macknick, who has been interested in video since grade school. Kait used Adobe Premier to edit the film. She intends to enroll in film school.

These young people fully expect positive environmental change in their lifetime. "I think that we should protect the world that we, and future generations, need to live in," Kait said. "It’s as simple as that."

Student filmmakers also took first-place honors in the middle school and open competition (for students and adults) categories:

Austin Tamaddon, Hillview Middle School, Atherton, "The Happy Hybrid and The Polluting Pickup," animation. Austin’s big bad truck with the bushy black eyebrows is no match for the more fuel-efficient and nimble hybrid.

Arianna Tamaddon, fifth-grader in the open competition, "Mr. Gopher," animation. Arianna’s lead character, a gopher, taking a discarded cigarette butt on the nose, sees poor stewardship of the
earth all around him. But as flowers and a bike lane appear, he is hopeful that future generations will live healthy lives.

In the process of creating their entry, another team of filmmakers from Terman middle school initiated a school-wide education campaign to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Bruno Borello of Bruno Borello Productions was among this year’s judges. With 30 years of experience in film and video, Borello sees enormous value in using film and other media to tackle raising awareness of issues such as environmentalism.

Annie Folger, Midpeninsula Community Media Center executive director, applauds schools for their filmmaking classes and extracurricular activities relating to video and the environment. The center is a
community resource for media tools and grassroots communication. Its Youth Broadcast Collaborative serves five school districts in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Atherton.

"We succeeded in getting an $850,000 Cable Co-op Legacy grant that put a TV studio in every public middle and high school in our service area," Folger said. "We trained the teachers and provide some technical support, and students are now broadcasting morning news on campus."

This competition was established by the City of Palo Alto, Media Center, and other community-minded sponsors and supporters. The energy service provider 3 Phases Energy bought Green Tags (renewable
energy) on behalf of the Film Festival this year to offset its energy consumption and thereby make it a carbon-neutral event.

The works of all nine finalists are available online at  All of the entries plus the entire ceremony – including comments made by individual filmmakers about topics and technique – will also be shown on community cable channel 28.