A closer look at the annual Urban Film Festival

Illicit substances. Fearsome beasts. Cucumbers. All of these topics and more are featured in this year’s Urban School Film Festival, an event run by video production, video/photography Teacher Kelli Yon and students interested in filmmaking. The purpose is to highlight Urban students’ video production skills by providing a platform for students to display their work as directors, actors, and producers. Yon provides a budget and equipment for the directors. The first Film Festival was held in 2011 and originally sought to bring alumni back to Urban to meet current students. In the past there have been films on topics ranging from city skiing to dog murders. There are few guidelines, except that the video must be under 20 minutes. Due to a lack of submissions, the date of the 7th Annual Urban Film Festival has been pushed to June 2, giving student filmmakers more time to submit their short films. To submit, students must email their video to Yon or give her a flash drive by May 26. The festival will be held on Friday, June 2 at 3pm in the Gumption and admission will be free.

Sidebar interview: Kelli Yon, Urban Video Teacher

Why is film important?

Film and/or video are such powerful modes of communication.  We learn so much today about history and the world and about different ways of thinking and being through what we see on a screen. It’s exciting to be able to contribute to this dialogue of teaching and sharing and to do it well only increases your chances of having your message and story heard.

How can we recruit more students to participate in future festivals? How can we draw attention to this?

I’m not sure why more students don’t participate in the film festival for I know that many at Urban share of love for making videos. Honestly, I suspect that the problem is lack of time. For if a student doesn’t have a video class, it’s hard to find the time outside of school and commitments to put the work into making one.

But perhaps if more kids come to the festival on June 2nd, they will be inspired to work on one over the summer for next year!

How do students learn these skills in the Urban curriculum?

Many classes have students make videos… and in video class we learn how to make good videos.  But honestly, I’m amazed by the talent that students bring into the class. Video and photography is the language of your generation, and many kids have great skills just from looking at a lot of media!


Will Hoppin — Drank:

After an exhausting afternoon shredding the Marin hills on his RipStik, an adolescent boy discovers the fatal consequences of experimenting with illicit substances.

Zara Jamey — Ladscouts

No amount of wilderness training could prep this troop for nature’s most fearsome beasts: girls.

Fiona O’Connor

A film noir style film that follows a detective on one of her cases in which a dog toy has been mangled by an unknown suspect. She aims to find the culprit, but is surprised by who she finds.

James Hill — 3 Submissions

The Cucumbering: A film about cucumbers starring sophomore loverboy Sean Hart

Get Me Out of Here: In the Embarcadero District, people seem to walk around with so much intention, which can be calming and unnerving.

Poker at Jerry’s: A group of lads play poker together, yet none of them know the rules.