By Shelbi Allen, MSMS Vision Staff Member
An aspiring film director has been awarded with the opportunity to pave his way from his mathematics and science classes at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science to a film festival in San Francisco, Calif. On Nov. 16, senior West Givens learned that he had earned a place on the jury at the prestigious Berlin and Beyond Film Festival. This program, organized by the Youth 4 German Cinema, is set to take place in January. From more than 300 applicants, only eight students from North America are accepted. Givens was one of the four United States citizens accepted– two were chosen from Mexico and two were selected from Canada.
Accepted students, including Givens, will be taking film classes from professionals, touring San Francisco, walking the red carpet at the Berlin and Beyond Film Festival, and critiquing feature films that are provided by the festival. Additionally, they will be responsible for awarding the Youth 4 German Cinema awards to the filmmakers of the films they critiqued.
On the last day there, the students are invited to the German Consulate. It is similar to a diplomatic office; however, it deals more directly with individuals and businesses. The German government is paying for all of the expenses of the students, and they are to be considered special guests. “Yeah, they pay for the airplane ticket, the food, the accommodations, the smiles and the laughs,” Givens said.
Even though it is a film festival, Givens was not required to submit one of his own short films. Instead, he was asked to offer constructive criticism on one of two provided short films in a video up to three minutes long. He was also asked to submit a short video, in which he introduced himself and explained his desire to participate in the program. His French II teacher Lori Pierce, who also teaches German, introduced Givens to the program and encouraged him to apply.
Currently, Givens has personally directed two short films, and he has been offered a place at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). “I’m super excited for the trip as a whole, but I think the thing that I’m most excited for is meeting professional filmmakers who are doing what I want to do,” West said when asked what he was most excited for about the trip. “I’m also excited for making connections and just being surrounded by films.”