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INDIE Film Festival Makes Triumphant Return

Rudy Brandl

After a three-year hiatus, the INDIE Film Festival made a triumphant return to Wardlaw+Hartridge on April 14. 

Upper School students, joined by their family and friends, enjoyed a full evening of festivities similar to the Academy Awards with guests dressed in formal attire. The event began with a “mocktail hour” in the AP Room including stationary and passed hors d’oeuvres prepared by Sage Dining Services. A three-man band of students David Flatau-Jones ’23, Charlie Silver ’24 and Luke Tan ’24 provided musical entertainment.

Filmmakers and guests walked the red carpet on their way to the Berry Performing Arts Center, posing for photographs along the way. After the guests were seated in the PAC, co-hosts Izabel Korycki ’22 and Zain Zaidi ’22 welcomed everyone and introduced the judging panel, which included Middle School history teacher Jeffrey Martin and recent W+H graduates Mayah Nissim ’20 and Sahil Mulji ’20, who were award winning actors in their final year of Upper School.

The event also included two student performances: a vocal by Samia Silver ’24, who sang Dandelions by Ruth B. before the first set of film screenings, and a dance routine to Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing by Sanya Sidhu ’24 at the intermission. After all 11 films were shown, Ancel DeJesus ’25 facilitated a Q&A with the filmmakers and assisted faculty committee members Cristian Fernandez, Jean Castellano and Andrew Sullivan in the presentation of the awards.

Monster Mash won the first-place prize for Best Film. Esha Nalla ’22 led a large cast and crew of 13 students to the stage to accept the award. Others who worked on the winning film were Lily Posner ’25, Claire Lu ’26, Annie Yu ’25, Moneet Kaur ’24, Anna Bao ’27, Carter Huang ’22, Feisal Kiiru ’22, Andrew Bao ’22, Soham Panigrahi, ’23 Amy Sun ’23, Abby Newell ’22 and Justin Hong ’22. 

Fools Fall in Love received second place. The five-student cast and crew was led by Sasha Chernyak ’23 and included Jack Singer ’24, Claire Chen ’23, Zain Zaidi ’22 and Nosagie Obadiaru ’23. Astrofest, a collaboration between Krishna Patel ’22 and Izabel Korycki ’22, earned the third-place award.

Mr. Fernandez was grateful for the hard work of the INDIE Film Committee, which included students Grace Lu ’22, Zain Zaidi ’22, Izabel Korycki ’22, Krishna Patel ’22, Esha Nalla ’22, David Flatau-Jones ’23 and Ancel DeJesus ’25 and faculty colleagues Jean Castellano, Liz Rooney and Andrew Sullivan.

“I was honored to be offered the opportunity to both teach a film course this year and bring the INDIE Film Festival back to W+H after a three-year hiatus,” Mr. Fernandez said. “Everything you experienced tonight was a manifestation of the committee’s dedication to creating a memorable experience that honors our community’s creativity and passion.”