Walpole High School Celebrates 16th Annual Film Festival


Jessica Ferguson

For the 16th year in a row, Walpole High School (WHS) held its annual Film Festival, where students walk the red carpet, are interviewed and have the chance to earn awards. “this was you.,” a film that follows how a group grieves following their friend’s death in a car accident, won four awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Editing and Best Cinematography. “this was you.” was directed by three-year Film Festival members Dana DeMartino and Ryan Conlon.

“Making this movie was awesome because we had a lot of creative freedom, and we got to portray a subject that isn’t talked about a lot in high school,” DeMartino said. “More than anything, red carpet night is awesome because we get to sit back and watch the product of our hard work.”

Mike McCarthy, who has been a part of the film program for several years, received an honorary Best Director award for his involvement in the program and his work on this year’s “Unified Friends” documentary, a movie narrated by McCarthy that highlights his and others’ involvement in WHS’ Best Buddies and Unified Track programs. WHS School Psychologist and Unified Track Coach Charlie Ferro awarded McCarthy with this award and also announced that the Best Buddies organization invited him and his family to the Tom Brady Football Challenge in June.

“[McCarthy] poured his heart and soul into this movie for over a year,” Ferro said. “He never ceases to amaze me with his perseverance, hard work and constant improvement.”

Aside from “this was you.,” other winners included drama “So Below” with Best Lead Performance for Ellen Irmiter and Best Cinematography; Best Achievement in Music for Toshak Patel in “hung up.” and “Overdue;” comedy “Driver’s Ed” for Best Faculty/Community Performance for Dave St. Martin and Best Art Direction and mystery-comedy “Overdue” with Best Supporting Performance for Joey Haskins and Best Screenplay.

This year, Film Festival producers Michael Alan and James Connolly decided to nominate all the movies for Best Film; therefore, instead of playing the typical four or five nominated movies in their entirety, they played short clips from each movie, which included documentaries such as “hung up.,” a film that shed light on the recent influx in cell phone use among teens.

“Nominating all the movies is something we’ve been thinking about for years. The time was right because it was a good year in terms of different types of movies, and they were all strong. We wanted to give the academy a chance to vote on the one they really liked, and this way also modeled the real academy,” Alan said.

Junior Nicole Waters, who directed the award-winning comedy “The Promposal” in last year’s festival, worked on documentary “Six Feet of Separation” this year with junior Jess Horne and sophomore Jimmy Haskins, which discussed WHS’ unique role as the only school in the country that has three students with cystic fibrosis (CF). The title refers to the danger CF patients have when in close proximity to other patients due to the passing of bacteria. WHS Nurse Rachel Jackson has created special schedules the past two years for each CF student to avoid encountering the others while in school.

“From making my movie, I learned not only about time management, teamwork and pre-planning, but also about the struggles of the students at our school with CF, the rarity of the situation at WHS and how to help CF patients in the future,” Waters said.

To honor Anthony Conti, former WHS film student who passed away in January of 2017, Alan and Connolly announced three recipients of the Anthony Conti Scholarship, which is awarded to seniors planning to study the arts and media in their post-secondary education. Two $500 scholarships were awarded to Tara Gordon, and Conlon. One $1000 scholarship was given to Haskins, who did a summer film program run by Alan with Conti the year before his passing.

“I felt incredibly honored to get the award. I worked really hard in all my four years in the film festival,” Haskins said. “Anthony was a great guy, and you could tell he had a lot of passion. I’m glad to be following in those tracks to my future.”

At the conclusion of the night, Alan, Connolly and Meme O’Malley congratulated the crews and thanked the audience for attending the show.

“I thought the night went really well as a whole, and a lot of people said how great the movies were. People liked how we brought alumni up to present the awards, which I think is a nice touch to bring our whole film community together,” Alan said.