Local film festival recognizes work of student filmmaker

Golden Door awards second scholarship to area alum

In keeping with a tradition that started earlier this year, Jersey City Arts faculty has awarded the Golden Door International Film Festival Student Scholarship for Excellence in Filmmaking to one of its former students.
Christian Balbutin, a 2013 graduate of the Jersey City Public School arts program, was awarded the $500 scholarship, which he will use to offset some of his expenses at New Jersey City University, where he is currently enrolled.
For the past three years, Golden Door International Film Festival cofounder Bill Sorvino and his crew have presented more than 200 professionally-produced independent films at venues throughout Jersey City. Inaugurated in October 2011, the festival has showcased film shorts, short shorts, and feature-length narrative and documentary works by emerging filmmakers.
The line-up of movies selected for each festival ran the gamut of independent filmmaking and attracted hundreds of audience members.

Last year, the Golden Door International Film Festival board decided to expand its mission.
Sorvino, a professional actor and Jersey City native, said he started the festival to give emerging independent filmmakers an avenue through which they can showcase their work and develop an audience. Last year, the festival board decided to expand its mission by supporting the growth of student filmmakers and youth interested in media arts. By working with the Jersey City public school district, the festival asked the faculty at Jersey City Arts to identify a promising student with an interest in film.
“Our mission statement is based on the principles of fostering the arts and supporting artists who show promise in their talent and earnest attitude toward achieving excellence,” Sorvino said last week.

‘Promise in cinema’

While the Jersey City Arts program is based at Henry Snyder High School, the program is open to and attended by students throughout Jersey City. Students enrolled in the program take their academic courses at their neighborhood or charter school, but then spend several hours a week at Henry Snyder High School working with instructors in their creative field of concentration (painting, music, theater, media arts, etc.).
“The [Golden Door International Film Festival] Board of Directors decided in the fall of 2012 that we wanted to reach out to the Jersey City public high schools to offer a $500 scholarship to a deserving student who excelled in media arts and film,” said Golden Door spokeswoman Peggy Kelly.
To be eligible for the scholarship, Kelly added, a student must “be in good academic standing in their respective high school, they must have a financial need for the scholarship, and display promise in cinema studies or media studies. Their level of promise is determined by the media arts department faculty.”
The scholarship, officially known as the Golden Door International Film Festival Student Scholarship for Excellence in Filmmaking and Media Arts, is currently open only to graduating high school students on their way to college. The Golden Door board hopes to be able to expand its scholarships in the coming years to include college and graduate school students.
The timeline for expanding the festival’s scholarship program will depend on the level of support from Golden Door sponsors, said Kelly, although the board expects to award at least one scholarship to a graduating high school senior in June 2014.
“Scholarships for the 2013-2014 school year are under discussion with the board,” Kelly said.
The third annual Golden Door International Film Festival was held last month at various venues throughout the city.

E-mail E. Assata Wright at awright@hudsonreporter.com.

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group