Chicago Students Honored at White House Film Festival

C.H.A.M.P.S. Mentoring Filmmakers created video using hip hop to deliver a positive message to young men facing adversity

YouTube / C.H.A.M.P.S

A group of young Chicago filmmakers are among those to be honored Friday at the 2015 White House Student Film Festival.

Rishard Bournes, 18, and Akin Austin, 15, participate in C.H.A.M.P.S. Mentoring Filmmakers, a program at Gary Comer College Prep High School on the city's South Side. C.H.A.M.P.S. stands for "Culturally Helping And Making Positive Success."

The student video uses hip-hop to deliver a positive message to young men facing adversity and is among 15 shorts scheduled to be screened at the second White House Film Festival in an East Room turned movie theater for the afternoon.

President Barack Obama showcases the work of students from around the country who produced short films about service and giving back for a White House contest.

Obama will use the event to announce a new initiative through the Corporation for National and Community Service to help inspire and mentor young artists. The American Film Institute and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have pledged to provide 1 million hours of mentoring over the next three years.

No "winners" will be announced and Obama won't hand out any gold trophies at the festival. But along with the recognition that comes from having one's amateur film shown on a big screen at the White House, the makers of these 15 "official selections" will get to spend Saturday toiling alongside actors and directors at workshops held at the Newseum.

Actors and directors are also expected at the White House on Friday, including Hillary Swank of "Million Dollar Baby" and Steve McQueen, director of the Oscar-winning "12 Years a Slave."

The 15 films were chosen in conjunction with the American Film Institute and were culled from some 1,500 entries, the White House said.

The filmmakers range in age from 6 to 18, and come from 12 states.

A California 17-year-old entered a "sockumentary" about helping the homeless one pair of socks at a time, an 18-year-old from Arizona uses his film to raise awareness about Navajo water rights issues, and an 18-year-old born with cerebral palsy documents his campaign to get wheelchair-accessible doors installed at his Texas school.

Actor Ken Howard, president of SAG-AFTRA, said the union's members want to help the next generation of actors and filmmakers.

"Sharing the tools of the trade helps ensure dynamic new storytellers practicing the craft, and a vibrant future for the entertainment industry," said Howard, star of the late 1970s TV show "The White Shadow."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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