Friday, February 21, 2020

SAR High School will host the second annual Filmfest, in partnership with the nationally recognized LUNAFEST, on Monday, February 25, starting at 5:30 p.m. at SAR High School. Guests are invited to attend this exciting event, which was attended by hundreds of people last year.

The SAR Filmfest is committed to developing empathy and mutual understanding of our communities. SAR is partnering with LUNAFEST because of the shared belief that by seeing and discussing exceptional filmmaking, we can achieve more open and honest communication. Using film shorts, students will engage the audience about current issues in the Jewish and modern world.

The festival will include student-led presentations, a reception, the film screenings and a post-screening discussion.

The SAR Filmfest is part of a two-semester senior elective, Literature and Film, taught by Ora Meier, who introduced the program to SAR 13 years ago. In preparation for LUNAFEST, students are taught skills of film analysis, literature study and critical writing. Public speaking and presentation skills are part of the course and text themes and films are related to the adolescent experience.

For the past five years SAR’s Lit and Film class attended the Jewish Museum’s “Movies That Matter High School Film Festival.” Sessions with the teaching artists have been structured around questions of understanding and assessing the films. A primary goal of this year’s partnership was to help the students imagine new aspects of enhancing the film festival experience. For example, recognizing the importance publicity plays toward achieving a successful filmfest, students were asked to design clear and engaging posters reflecting their experience as a SAR high school student.

Meier explained, “I know that films (and television) are a primary means for high school students to hear stories.” With that in mind, Meier’s Lit and Film class is a unique class where students’ interests are piqued when given the chance to study film. Students learn how the importance of a director’s choice, be it with lighting, sound or costumes, can “unlock the thematic values of the film.” Meier further explained, “Rather than let the films (or TV shows) dictate their lives, I want to help the students understand their power in constructing narratives of their own.”

Meier also wants to help students become better readers and writers. “Some students take my class because they’ve given up on literature. In a way, they feel that they don’t have the close-reading skills to appreciate a literary text.” By interpreting and analyzing film adaptations, students become more comfortable with close-reading skills of both film analysis and literary analysis.

Working in small groups of two to four people, students watched and reviewed credible film shorts and selected several for their presentations.

Student-led presentations will include technology in film; films without dialogue; youth in animated films; comedy in film; the power of thrillers; social media for women; using animation to address real world issues; the effect of technology on relationships; and social media’s potentially devastating impact on people’s lives.

Recognizing the importance of SAR High School’s Filmfest, Meier was awarded grants from The Jewish Education Project (JEP) for both the 2018 and 2019 Filmfest.

SAR High School is located at 503 W. 259th Street, Bronx, NY. The event is free, made possible by grants received from The Jewish Education Project. For further information about Filmfest, please contact Ora Meier at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 By Yvette Finkelstein

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