I was actually invited to the festival by a friend of mine who is a programmer, because they have a showcase of films made by high school kids. So there's a couple of screenings of all the films, then a luncheon where the kids get to hang out with "luminaries", and even get to have advising sessions with them. All in all, it's pretty great.
Watching the films, I couldn't help but be amazed with the work the kids did. Quite a bit of the work was really quite extraordinary, as if these kids are calling the rest of us out for being cowards for thinking small. This is what I love about young filmmakers: they haven't learned what's impossible yet. There's such sincerity in their work, it's almost overwhelming. They're not trying to get signed by a studio, make a calling card, network, or work the system. They just want to express something that is important to them; to say something about the world. After the arts conference, it was difficult to contain an odd sense of pride I had to be working at what I do. I work for a program that helps kids to exactly this kind of work (even though that's not my department), and on some level I feel like I'm doing something to make it easier for kids to do what I saw. I'm proud of them without even knowing them. I know that's a pretty self-centered way of thinking about it, like I'm taking credit for their work, but I can't help it. I feel like I'm a pseudo-parent, encouraging kids to be creative long after it is "practical".
Anyway, the luncheon afterwards was nice, and Mark Levine and his wife Jen (producers of such films as Nim's Island) were on hand to talk to the kids and so forth. If I were 16, I would feel like a rock star. And the kids deserve it. They earned it. Plus, it's good to get a taste of what your creativity can achieve for you. More kids need it.
Anyway, here's a couple of pictures. One from the luncheon, and one from the Anaheim train stop, where U2 was performing on my way home. How's that for a career in the arts?