8th Annual Film Festival Does Not Disappoint

James Cullinane

The Walpole High School Film Festival has become a model of excellence to high schools all over the country, all of whom are wishing to replicate the success that has been attained in Walpole.  For the last eight years,  Michael Alan has lead the charge in helping to complete the best possible movies and organizing the popular event.  The film festival has become an essential part of life in Walpole.  The 8th annual awards night ceremony, held on May 20, exceeded its already incredibly high expectations, becoming one of the most successful awards nights in memory.

The 2010 awards night was dominated by The Mathlete, a story of an incredibly talented math team captain, who loses his spot on the team to a new student from Prussia.  Co-Directed by senior Rich Murphy and junior Emily Quinlan, The Mathlete walked away with the coveted Best Picture Award, making it a bona fide classic at Walpole High School.  Individual members of The Mathlete‘s talented ensemble received their well deserved recognition throughout the night as well.  Senior Ryan McGuill, who portrayed math team captain Brad Michaelson, received the prestigious honor of Best Actor.  McGuill’s onscreen adversary, senior Nikita Gubanov was named the Best Supporting Actor.  This award winning tandem was accompanied by three nominees for Best Faculty Performance.  Mr. Dave St. Martin, Mr. Phil Balkus, and Mrs. Kathy Milne all delivered memorable performances.  Mrs. Milne received the honor of Best Faculty Performance and delivered the most memorable speech of the night, noting that she is occasionally “Not so good  with numbers”.  Senior Nick “Pic” Piccirilli earned the award for Best Screenplay, for his work on the script of Mathlete, which was originally written by Walpole High alumni Debbie Carty and Paul Shuster, whom Piccirilli referenced in his acceptance speech by saying “They probably have no idea who I am”.   The Mathlete‘s star studded cast proved to steal the show on awards night, sweeping the three major actor categories.

Despite the attention received by actors in the Walpole High School Film Festival, there is much more to making a great movie than having great onscreen performances.  The true beauty of the film festival lies behind the scenes, where directors bring their visions to life.  Phill Groden, director of West, was assisted by a talented group of art directors to transform a classroom at Plimpton, into his vision of an old west saloon.  West‘s incredible set helped earn them the award for Best Art Direction.  Amazing sets such as that of West would not be possible without the incredible amount of work put in by Ms. Laura Padis, who runs the Art Direction for film festival. The award for Best Editor went to senior Ara Nerssessian, who directed Best Picture nominee Curtain Call.  The most prestigous direction award, Best Director, went to seniors Torie O’Neil and Michaela Brady for their work on Cootie Catcher.  O’Neil and Brady undoubtedly deserved this award, as they managed a class of fourth graders, along with the film festival’s biggest diva, Mike Caneja.   The incredible depth of talent helped to make the 2010 festival one of the most successful ever.

Another aspect of film festival that can easily be overlooked is the hard work put in by casts and crews of short films.  The award for Best Short Film was split between Man Vs. School and Printer Problems, becoming the first tie in the eight year history of film festival.  Printer Problems consisted of great faculty performances from Mr. Conor Cashman, Mrs. Beth Sullivan, and Mr. Ben Kampper, all of whom left the packed auditorium in stitches.  Man Vs. School, the creation of seniors Chris Tetreault and Pete McNulty, parodied “Man Vs. Wild” and its famous host, Bear Grylls.  James Cullinane starred in the role of Grizzly Winters, whose constantly fluctuating accent was usually somewhere in between Australian and British.

The 2010 Film Festival was led by an extraordinary senior class.  Along with the aforementioned directors, senior directors Rich Murphy, Julie Fortin, and Ara Nerssessian turned in their masterpieces, showcasing the culmination of four years of hard work and dedication to film.  Despite losing this incredible senior class, exciting underclassmen performances help to give the 2011 film festival a bright future.  The Day of Adorn, starring Best Actor nominee Dan Adorn, is a peculiar, yet hilarious creation of sophomores CJ Tempesta and John Griffin.  The all freshman crew of A Freshman Odyssey was an embodiment of the true meaning of the film festival.  These young film makers will become the nucleus that holds the film festival together for the next four years.  The tradition at Walpole High School is for one great class to replace another.  With the loss of the class of 2010, the class of 2014 will arrive to pick up where their predecessors left off, living by the mantra: “Make movies or make excuses.”