Filmmakers Take Home Multiple Awards

LVHS film students

A team of film students swept the 12th Annual Locust Valley Film Festival, winning three awards for their film, “The Last Letter.” The emotional film took first prize in the drama category, won the audience choice award and took the win for best overall film. Locust Valley students earned nine awards overall. Fourteen schools participated from across Long Island. Submissions were prejudged by film professors at Five Towns College, who created a list of finalists for inclusion in the film festival.

Those films were shown during the festival and judged by ABC film critic Sandy Kenyon. Mr. Kenyon, who has been the festival judge for eight years, not only selects the winning films, but also critiques them and provides the young filmmakers valuable feedback. This year, he said the films showed remarkable improvement and promise. He also noted that the use of sound enhanced the viewing experience of the first-place winning film. “The sounds used, fit the drama perfectly,” he said, referring to the swishing sound of a football being passed and subtle creaking sounds of walking in “The Last Letter.” It is sometimes these details that push a film to the top, he explained and said that all of the winning films had high-quality production value in both video and audio.

Locust Valley students also won first place for Comedy. Mr. Kenyon said that he uses audience reaction as part of his criteria for this category. “The best comedies play to the whole room,” he said and “the loudest laughter was heard” during “Beat the Cheat.” Mr. Kenyon’s advice included constructive criticism aimed at helping filmmakers understand why their films did not win. He suggested making sure that vocal tracks did not fight with the dialogue making the music distracting for the audience. He also suggested reshooting early scenes after the actors had a few days of filming under their belts and were feeling more comfortable in their roles.

Theresa Donohue, Director of Admissions at Five Towns College attended the film festival and generously offered the winners free tuition for a three-week summer film workshop. Debra Markowitz, Nassau County Film Commissioner presented the best overall film award to the creators of “The Last Letter.” This film has now earned a spot in the Long Island International Film Expo.

Film teacher Roger Boucher said the students worked hard for months writing scripts, editing footage, sometimes over and over again until it was the best it could be. “These student filmmakers poured their hearts and souls into their work and I am extremely proud of their success.” The film festival is possible through the help of the High School Parents’ Council, specifically Laura Dessner and Emily Johnson.

Congratulations to all of the participants!





America's Magician


3rd Place

Chris Madsen, Anthony Madsen

Beat the Cheat


1st Place

Kristy Jahchan, Michael Crisci, Melissa Cooney, Megan Prosser, Roisin O'Neill

The Spelling Bee


Daniel Dessner

The Story of Samuel


Devin Slattery, Max Keller, Chris Muller

Howard Beach Cleaning Service


2nd Place

Alec Miranda, Christopher Madsen, Justin Manzi, Marc Ambrosino, and Maxwell Keller

Lay's Chips: Chase


Anthony Madsen, Daniel Dessner, Madeline Daly, Myrna Lagos, Griffin Pugach



3rd Place

Melissa Cooney

Kiki Vandeweghe: The Interview


JP Grace Hunter Weidenkeller Chris Volpe Chris Muller

The Last Letter


1st Place, Audience Choice, Best Overall

Chris Madsen, Alec Miranda, Marc Ambrosino, Justin Manzi



Melissa Cooney, Kristy Jahchan, Megan Prosser

Piano Man


3rd Place

Taylor LoMonaco, Megan Prosser, Arianna Harris

Say Something


Chris Madsen, Anthony Madsen

Oh Cecilia


3rd Place

Kristy Jahchan and Roisin O'Neill

Stay Sober


Madeline Daly

The Great Gatsby


Chris Madsen, Alec Miranda, Anthony Madsen