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Paly film to compete in festival

Palo Alto High School senior John Dai’s film, “Brown Penny,” which is the visual adaptation of W.B. Yeats’ poem, has been nominated to be played at the 60th annual San Francisco International Film Festival, which runs from April 5-17.

The San Francisco International Film Festival, the longest running film festival in the nation, holds a category for teenagers who have produced films. According to Video Production Teacher Brett Griffith, teenagers who submit their films could earn the Golden Gate Award, which is given to the best film in the category.

“My film is about love and heartbreak,” Dai said. “It’s a unit in my video production class.”

Dai says that Griffith was the reason he sent his movie to be nominated.

“I got involved because my video production teacher encouraged me to submit to the film festival,” Dai said.

Every year, Griffith supports his students in their journey to submit their film. In his advanced classes students are required to submit their film to events, such as the San Francisco International Film Festival.

“In the Advanced classes, every student submits work to both Scholastic and SF International because the cost to enter is nominal, waived in event of hardship or free,” Griffith said. “John is a valued member of the program — passionate and reflective about what he does.”

Griffith also said how he especially wanted Dai’s film to be submitted because, unlike many other films he views, Dai’s piece is one he is incredibly proud of.

“Formally, it features strong mise-en-scene, visual fundamentals and control in terms of audio design,” Griffith said. “With respect to post-production and editing, it utilizes match shots and match-on-action cutting, and there is evident forethought: color grading — beginning of character’s story is vibrant, saturated colors in golden day and moves to desaturated colors in night — per emotional tone.”

Griffith also adds that the film sticks to the main plot but adds new information, which completes the story and is one of the reasons why the film was a success in his eyes.

“The pace compels us and reveals new information concurrent with the central metaphor as the film moves forward,” Griffith said. “I think the tale of unrequited or a hard-lost young love is a powerful and enduring one — a timeless tale — and in this case executed very well.”

Currently, Dai’s film has not been nominated for any awards. Whether or not Dai’s film receives the Golden Gate Award, Griffith believes that the experience of having one’s film be accepted is one to remember.

“Submitting, and attending premiere film festivals is an experience — part of understanding what it means to fully participate in the arts as they exist in our society,” Griffith said. “Doing so further re-emphasizes what we do and to aspire to excellence in our coursework.”

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