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Students to participate in Clash of the Titans film festival

Amelia Bassi
Students will participate in the Clash of the Titans film festival in Paris Jan. 24-27. They have been preparing for the festival, where they will be required to produce a film in one day.

Eight selected student directors participating the school’s yearly film festival will attend the Clash of the Titans film festival in Paris Jan. 24-27. Performing Arts Teacher Todd Sessoms said 16 schools from across the world will be participating in the festival, hosted by the American School of Paris.

Sessoms, who is leading the trip, said the event is designed for International Baccalaureate students studying film and is a way for students to show their skills and explore their passions.

“All of the students who are going have chosen to do this,” Sessoms said. “They came out originally because they love film and they want to direct films, and so it’s a chance for them to meet other students who are equally passionate.”

Furthermore, Sessoms said he is excited to see his students develop relationships with each other across different schools, which they can maintain throughout their academic and professional careers.

“It gives them a chance to make connections across schools and across cultures and across differences,” Sessoms said. “I really hope that our students walk out having made some great student connections that they can hold on to.”

Sessoms said during the festival, teams will participate in a lottery event where they randomly pull film elements out of a hat. These include the genre, a filming location, an actor and a prop that must function as a central theme. The teams then have to plan, write, film and edit their film in one day.

Hannah Lindner (’25), who is attending the festival, said although the restrictions and criteria for the competition are challenging, they encourage students to develop perseverance, which is a skill needed for working in the film industry.

“You have to have resilience, and I feel like that’s very much real in the film industry,” Lindner said. “So if you want to work in film, then it’s perfect for you.”

English Teacher Mark Mazzenga, who teaches the Literature and Film class, is also leading the trip. He said creating films will allow students to develop their teamwork skills, especially since there are many different responsibilities involved in producing a film.

“You have to really be a good listener and understand if something isn’t working or if it is working,” Mazzenga said. “I think just being able to put in that really rich, collaborative creative environment is super beneficial, and it’s applicable for all strands of life.”

Furthermore, teachers will only be able to work with their students for 20 minutes each day, so students must organize and create their films without assistance.
Mazzenga said he hopes the freedom of the event will show students that they are able to produce impressive work independently.

“I’m just really excited to see both our students kind of plunged into a really charged and creative environment and just seeing what they can do because I know they’re very capable,” Mazzenga said.

Additionally, Sessoms said the festival is an opportunity for students to take charge of their work and utilize the time they have spent in preparation.

“Everything is on their own, it’s on them,” Sessoms said. “Now it’s about them really taking the reins and being creative and having fun and making it happen, so we can really release them and let them be independent, and let them learn in that process.”

Lindner said she is also looking forward to learning more about filmmaking and professional equipment through the workshops at the festival.

“I’m really excited to learn more about film and filmmaking and editing, and they’re gonna give us lots of resources and new software and new cameras, and everything that we can learn about,” Lindner said.

Mazzenga said he is excited to see how different schools organize their film curriculum and practice since he can learn from and build connections with these other schools.

“I’m just so interested in seeing how other people approach filmmaking and their attitudes and their process of it,” Mazzenga said. “I think anytime you add new voices in a conversation it gives you something to think about as a teacher and as a student.”

Likewise, Sessoms said he hopes to learn from other schools to improve the film program at the school.

“It’s very easy to sort of know your own program as a student or a teacher, and think this is the way to do it,” Sessoms said. “I’m super excited to learn how wrong I have been, and find new ways to continue growing.”

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About the Contributor
Amelia Bassi, Reporter
Amelia Bassi ('27) is a Reporter for The Standard in Multimedia Journalism.

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