Friday, April 29, 2016

NFFTY Welcomes Back a Precocious Filmmaker

Scanning the list of filmmakers showcased in the May 1 screening event "Northwest Is Best," one name jumps out: Celia Jensen.

That's because Jensen, director of the documentary short The Secret Life of a Gum Wall, is 9. As such, she is many years younger than the rest of her National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) field; the April 28-May 1 event is open to filmmakers ages 24 and under. Adding to the Jensen mystique is the fact that she was 8 when she put her entry together and 7 when she participated in her first NYFFTY (pronounced "Nifty") back in 2014.

From a report by the University of Washington:

When Jensen decided to make a film about the demise of Seattle’s Gum Wall — with her father, Matt Jensen, capably assisting — she looked to the UW for an expert to interview and found Jeffrey Ochsner. And though Ochsner is otherwise busy being a professor of architecture and associate dean for academic affairs in the UW College of Built Environments, he was happy to help.

The so-called Gum Wall, located in Pike Place Market's Post Alley, was steam-cleaned last fall, just before Thanksgiving. However, some new gum artwork quickly appeared following the clean-up, in the form of a peace sign, as a mark of solidarity with the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks.

"Northwest Is Best" is but a small part of the NFFTY 2016 festival program. The run of talent being celebrated is a reminder of just how accessible the digital revolution has made filmmaking to elementary, high school and college-age students. No more borrowing dad's Super 8 camera; no more begging for leftover strands of 16mm or 35mm film.

Jensen was born in 2007, the same year as NFFTY. Along with the state of Washington, several of the other films in her segment were made by entrants from Canada.

[NFFTY: "Northwest Is Best"]

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