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W+H Community Enjoys Indie Film and Arts Festival

Rudy Brandl

The Wardlaw+Hartridge School showcased Upper School student filmmakers, visual artists, and musical performers at the annual Indie Film and Arts Festival on Friday, May 19. 

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, evening attire. The event began with a “mocktail hour” in the AP Room including hors d'oeuvres prepared by Sage Dining Services. Craft mocktails were designed and prepared by Upper School students. An Upper School art gallery proceeded to a red carpet which led into an AP Room that was adorned with art and decorations while music set the tone for the community to mingle before the evening's festivities. 

The art show included new work created by students in grades 9-12. Junior AP art was installed on the main, long hallway near the AP Room, while work from three of the seniors who recently submitted portfolios to the college board was on display in the AP Room. The work includes drawings, painting, photography, and some sculpture.

Sophomore artist and future fashion designer Aleena Virani ’25 presented two of her creations during the mocktail hour.  Fellow students modeled her designs, one which was a show stopping evening gown, made from fanned book pages!  

Additional highlights to the art show from our sculpture students include the 3-D interpretations of Magritte's Son of Man by Demi Dai ’24, Klimt's The Kiss by Giannalise Rodriquez ’26,  and Mondrian's Boogie Woogie Broadway by Salim Al Buraiki ’24.  Our Senior Sculpture II students also created wearable hats made of paper and horses inspired by Deborah Butterfield.  

Filmmakers and guests then walked to the Berry Performing Arts Center.

After guests were seated in the PAC, adorned with lights and flowers, co-hosts Cherice Clarke ’23 and Xavier Hinds ’23 welcomed everyone and introduced the judging panel, which included Upper School English teacher Maxime Sinal as well as W+H alumni Katie Vetland ’02 and Ralph Folkes ’99.

The event also included three student performances: vocals by Julia Machado ’25 and Raiya Patel ’24 and dance by Sanya Sidhu ’24.  After all 11 films were shown, Ancel De Jesus ’25 facilitated a Q&A with several of the filmmakers and presented awards alongside Kamila Franco ’25 and Nia Clark ’25.

Lucy Chen ’23 won the first-place prize for Best Film – “The Blue Submarine.”  

Amy Sun ’23 received second place for “School” and Sasha Chernyak ’23 earned third place for “There Were Two.”  

The judges also insisted there be two Honorable Mentions because scores were so tight among the top films. Those were awarded to Maiti O'Connor ’23 (“Pupppy Love”) and Naomi Valcourt ’24 (“For You”).

All of the screened films will be shared with the entire community shortly so that they can be viewed on demand. 

Mr. Fernandez was grateful for the hard work of the INDIE Film Committee, which included students Ancel De Jesus ’25, Kamila Franco ’25, Nia Clark ’25, Avarae Calloway ’24, and Sasha Chernyak ’23, as well as faculty colleagues Michelle Penny and Andrew Sullivan. 

“Tonight was the result of our community's passion, creativity, and human spirit. I am beyond grateful for all those, students and adults, who made this evening possible,” Mr. Fernandez said. “Our student filmmakers accomplished something really incredible and I am so pleased to know that they were celebrated this evening. I will be eagerly looking forward to next year's event!” 

“All in all the evening was an incredible celebration of The Arts at Wardlaw-Hartridge,” Miss Tucker added. ‘We had incredible two and three dimensional work on display (and worn), wonderful student performances, and original films all presented by our Upper School students. The creative risks and imagination on display this evening are just more examples of our exceptional student body!” 


Photos by Stacey Rothrock Steinfeld