Frank Sinatra Film School highlights student talent at annual Film Festival

frank sinatra
Photo provided by FSSA

There is nothing quite like putting a bow on a successful school year than the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts‘ (FSSA) 16th Annual Film Festival on May 3. It is a night when the Astoria high school rolls out a red carpet, and film students dress to impress as they broadcast their filmmaking talents.

Photo by Jason Spagnuoli

“The festival is the culmination of all the hard work of the students in our department from the entire school year. It offers them an opportunity to showcase their style, voice and creativity,” Jason Spagnuoli, FSSA Film teacher said.

The event will start at 6 p.m. at the Tony Bennett Concert Hall at FSSA, where the underclassmen will debut 10 to 15 of their films. The second portion will be held at the Museum of the Moving Image at 8 p.m., where the seniors will show six senior theses, followed by an awards ceremony. The films range from Alfred Hitcock-esque thrillers to period pieces set in the 1940s.

“People want their work to be shown and seen. The film festival is one of the biggest broadcasts of the film department, so it’s a night where we can all be congratulated,” Imani Smith, FSSA senior film major said.

Two different pieces that Smith collaborated on will be screened at MoMI. She was a script supervisor and editor for a film called “All the Atheists Say Amen” and a gaffer for a music video for Kali Uchi’s “Te Mata,” directed by fellow senior Jonathan Svitsky.

“I love when we talk about a film and stories and work through each other’s ideas because it’s not really something you can do yourself or should do by yourself. It’s a lot more fun when you can collaborate with other people and bounce off each other’s ideas and create something together,” Smith said.

The young filmmaker has been creating and editing videos and writing since she was about 10 years old but started seriously pursuing filmmaking as a freshman.

“The films at the festival are not the basic ‘kid has to turn in homework before deadline’. The students make their stuff unique and put their own voice into it. It’s not generic. The festival is a good experience to see what’s going on,” Smith said.

Dmitry Gubin, Film Teacher and Department Chair at FSSA, equated the student’s work to professional college-level films. A group of sophomores even traveled upstate to shoot one weekend and hired real actors. “We really pride ourselves on the quality of the work that the students produce. The students go out of their way to add high value to their productions,” Gubin said.

The film festival is open to the community and tickets are $20. For more information, please see the film department’s Instagram page @fssafilm.

“Anyone coming to see will be pleasantly surprised by what these teenagers are able to accomplish,” Gubin said.