South Dade High students win at student film competition

Foreign directors, actors and local film buffs aren’t the only ones excited about this week’s Miami International Film Festival.

Three high school freshmen stole the show at the awards ceremony of the Fifth Annual Student Film Competition on Sunday in Little Havana.

Homestead residents Kasey Gonzalez, Emily Galvez and Lauren Thermes, freshmen at South Dade Senior High, earned first place in the short film category with a piece entitled Homelessness: Just Look Around.

“This experience taught us a lot abut how to see homeless people. They really are just regular people like everybody else,” said Kasey, 14.

The three girls, who also won third place in the public-service announcement category, spent several hours in downtown Miami around the Camillus House filming and speaking to homeless people to compile a three-minute film that highlighted their plight.

“What we’re hoping is that this film will affect change, that people will see this and want to do something to help,” said Emily. also 14.

Sponsored by the Miami Coalition for the Homeless as part of the Miami International Film Festival, the competition included 56 entries from 65 students throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Other winners in the short film category included: third-place winner Victoria Palacio, a senior at John A. Ferguson Senior High in West Kendall, and second-place winner Luiza Georgescu, a junior at Miami Beach Senior High. In the public-service announcement category, sophomore Connor Guest from Ransom Everglades in Coconut Grove won second place, and senior Eric Flemons from University School of Nova Southeastern University in Davie won first place with his film entitled The Road to Ruin.

“This was something that has just always been in me, helping homeless people. I wanted everyone to see that the homeless are real people and not just scenery,” said Eric.

Added Kasey: “People have to stop categorizing homeless people. They think they all have mental issues or other problems and that’s not true. This whole thing really opened my eyes.”

According to Pauline Clarke-Trotman, board president for the coalition, the student competition emerged as a result of the 2006 beating death of Norris Gaynor, a homeless man who was bludgeoned to death by three local teenagers in Fort Lauderdale, and is a way of enlightening area youth to the realities of homelessness.

“Since we started this event, there had been a marked decline in crimes against homeless people in Miami-Dade County,” said Clarke-Trotman.

Now in its fifth year, the competition is part of the week long festivities of the Miami International Film Festival that will end on Sunday.

Other festival events, all held at the Gusman Theatre, 174 E. Flagler St. in Miami, include the premieres of Young Goethe In Love, a historical drama by German filmmaker Philipp Stölzl, at 7 p.m. tonight, and With or Without Love, a musical comedy by Spanish writer-director David Serrano, to be held at 9:45 p.m., Friday, March 11. The awards ceremony will be held at 7 p.m., Saturday.

Film Festival

The Miami International Film Festival continues through Sunday.

For more information, call 305-237-3456 or visit


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