Montclair Film 2021 Emerging Filmmaker Competition Winners Announced

MONTCLAIR, NJ – Montclair Film announced the winners of the 2021 Emerging Filmmaker Competition (EFC) Thursday. Co-presented by Guerriero Gelato & Cakes, EFC celebrates the work of filmmakers in two filmmaking sections, Storytellers (Grades 6-8) and Visionaries (Grades 9-12). The films represent a wide range of styles and voices that showcase the diverse talents of young people who are using cinema to tell their stories. Categories include narrative, comedy, documentary, experimental, animated, horror/suspense, and social impact films, with a special category this year called My COVID Life!, which asked students to reflect on their experiences during the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Screenings of the films and awards will be given in each of these categories on Saturday, June 5th and Sunday June 6th at Montclair Film’s Cinema505.

This year’s adult judges are Evan Baily, (President, Consolidated Baily), Ellin Baumel (Supervising Producer, Axios on HBO), Margaret Bodde (Producer & Executive Director of The Film Foundation, Evan Cutler (Writer and Producer, Big Fish Entertainment), Mark Fitzmartin (Head Of Production, New Light Content Inc.), Amy Friedman (Head of Kids + Family Programming, Warner Brothers Entertainment), JoAnn McCullough (Executive Director, IMANI Programs).

Winning films are available for online viewing by visiting

“I wanted the students to work towards something big, and the Montclair Film Festival was the perfect fit,” says Fallbrook Union High School instructor George Herring of Fallbrook,
California, who brought his winning filmmakers from California to attend the screenings at Cinema505. “Montclair has had an electric effect in our community. In the midst of COVID, here was this amazing honor! It immediately helped to grow the confidence of the students as well as the community.”

“The extraordinary challenges of the past year have allowed our Emerging Filmmakers to think and create in new ways, and their resilience in the face of these challenges is an example of the power of storytelling,” said Montclair Film Director of Education Sue Hollenberg. “We congratulate all of the filmmakers who submitted work to our EFC program, and are proud to be able to welcome our winners to screen these films in-person in a safe environment at Cinema505, our organization’s home.”

Montclair Film’s 2021 Emerging Filmmaker Competition winners are:

Storytellers (Grades 6 – 8)

Comedy: Grand Prize


Directed by Jack Sclafane, Leonia Middle School

Documentary: Grand Prize

Escapades of a Pandemic Surfer

Directed by Onyedikachi Osondu, Bloomfield Middle School

Experimental: Grand Prize

Los Ojos Bonitos (The Beautiful Eyes)
Directed by Willow Killebrew, Montclair Kimberley Academy Middle School

My Covid Life!: Grand Prize:

Remote Learning

Directed by Zack Donohue, Far Hills Country Day School

My Covid Life!: Special Jury Prize

Out Of My Mind

Directed by Lyla Larkin, Watchung School

Visionaries (Grades 9 – 12)

Visionary Award


Directed by Sam Zaslow-Braverman, Golda Och Academy

Narrative: Grand Prize

In These Streets

Directed by Adam Rodarte, Fallbrook High School

Narrative: Special Jury Prize


Directed by Peter Di Prospero, Immaculata High School

Narrative: Special Jury Prize

Estimated Time of Arrival

Directed by Daniel Lee, UCVTS Academy for Performing Arts

Comedy: Grand Prize

The Voice of Reason

Directed by John-Trajan Bernardo, Sinjin-Kai Bernardo

County Prep High School (Hudson County School of Technology in Jersey City)

Comedy: Special Jury Prize

Life After Death

Directed by Maura Collins, Ashlyn Estevez, Sasha Harris, Abby Badrick, and Sophie Jackson, Middletown High School South

Comedy: Special Jury Prize


Directed by Stephen Sassano and Jason Sassano, Middletown High School South

Animated Film: Grand Prize


Directed by Carli Platt, Millburn High School

Animated Film: Special Jury Prize

How To Wear A Mask

Directed by Jason Lewis, Montclair High School

Animated Film: Special Jury Prize

The Diving Contest

Directed by Liam Murphy, Ridge High School

Horror/Suspense: Grand Prize

The Love That Remains

Directed by Darla Matches, Maura Collins, Abby Badrick, and Sophie Jackson, Middletown High School South

Horror/Suspense: Special Jury Prize

The White Wood

Directed by Sophie Jackson, Middletown High School South

Horror/Suspense: Special Jury Prize

The Things We Do For Love

Directed by Ryan McWalters, Chatham High School

Experimental: Grand Prize (tie)

Day of theDead

Directed by Pamela Hernandez, Passaic County Technical Institute,

Experimental: Grand Prize (tie)

Growing Pains

Directed by Jennifer Ruiz-Gonzalez, East Brunswick Tech – School of the Arts

Experimental: Special Jury Prize


Directed by Maya Zeidman, East Brunswick Tech – School of the Arts,

Social Impact: Grand Prize

The Reality of Eating Disorders

Directed by Ashley Bergemann, Passaic County Technical Institute

Social Impact: Special Jury Prize

Locked In

Directed by Naylani Burton, Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology

Cinematography: Special Jury Prize


Directed by Brooks Walker and Terrence Faison, Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology

2021 EFC Showcase: My Covid Life!

Special Jury Awards

Life During a Pandemic

Directed by Carolann Cuebas, County Prep High School

Covid & L’Manburg

Directed by Elliot Chisholm-Reyes, Fallbrook High School

Lockdown Logins

Directed by Hafeez Hardin, Columbia High School

A Year in Quarantine

Directed by Ivie Medina, Passaic County Technical Institute

My Covid VIRUS

Directed by Skyler Garcia, Fallbrook High School


Directed by Taylor Christenson, Fallbrook High School

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