Young filmmakers of the Southern Tier will have an opportunity to showcase their work at the Wharton Studio Museum’s second “Silents Roar!” Film Festival on April 20. At the festival, filmmakers aged 13 to 18 are able to submit silent films they created on topics of their choosing and compete for prizes. All films that enter the contest are based on a popular style utilized by filmmakers Theodore and Leopold Wharton, brothers who made silent films in Ithaca during the early 1900s.
The festival was founded by Ithaca College sophomore Fiona Okumu, who proposed the idea to Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick in 2017. She said she is continuing to work with the festival in the hopes that she will inspire young people in Ithaca to pursue filmmaking professionally and to foster their creativity in the field. In addition to the individual monetary prizes the winning filmmakers receive, their schools also receive funding for additional filmmaking equipment, furthering the schools’ capacity to educate their students in filmmaking. In this way, the festival goes beyond a mere creative outlet for aspiring filmmakers in the community and also serves as a way to support them with the material resources they need to realize their full potentials.
It is encouraging to see that Okumu and others involved in the festival are trying to foster the community’s relationship with the historical aspect of art in Ithaca. While there are seemingly countless opportunities to create and observe art in the community, events dedicated to the beginnings of Ithaca’s artistic development are a rarity. Ultimately, this event is not only providing young filmmakers a platform they otherwise would not have, but the festival also enriches the whole community with its added historical inspiration.
By organizing and continuing to help with the festival, Okumu is doing her part to encourage and foster the growth of the incoming generation of future filmmakers. This festival is a positive for youths in the area because it encourages a communitywide investment in filmmaking and the arts. As the festival continues to grow over the years, students at the college and the community at large should celebrate it and utilize the opportunity to be a part of this helpful and enriching event.