At the 12th annual Locust Valley High School Film Festival on March 24, four juniors took home the majority of the awards for their short dramatic film “The Last Letter.” The months spent filming, the late nights spent editing, and the various roadblocks Chris Madsen, Alec Miranda, Marc Ambrosino and Justin Manzi overcame were worth it in the end when their film won the three most coveted awards — first place drama, audience choice and best in show.
“The Last Letter” is about two brothers who had to deal with the loss of their father on Sept. 11, 2001, and the different ways they in which they came to terms with the tragedy. “We wanted to make something that was unique and something that high school film students don’t usually do,” said Madsen, the film’s writer and cinematographer.
Even though the filmmakers were infants when the attacks on the World Trade Center took place, they succeeded in creating a film that viewers could relate to, and that evoked tears from some in the audience.
“Saying it was a lot of work is an understatement,” said Miranda, the film’s editor. Using their own equipment, the four dealt with multiple reshoots, a storyline change and countless late nights of editing to complete the film.
Out of 180 entries, only 59 films from 14 Long Island high schools were screened in the categories of comedy, music video, drama, PSA, animation, documentary, commercial and trailer.
“Everyone who got screened today was really a winner,” said Locust Valley High Principal Kieran McGuire. Judges included cinematographer Charles Schner; filmmaker James C. Bock; Kathy Curtis, the artistic director of Renaissance Now Theatre and Film; and ABC movie critic, entertainment reporter and voice-over artist Sandy Ken-yon.
Locust Valley film teacher Roger Boucher was especially proud, saying, “I’m blessed with some of the best students I can ask for.”
“The Last Letter” will be shown at the Long Island International Film Festival, July 13 to 20, at the historic Bellmore Movies.