LEWISTON — Student filmmaker Meggie Wise savors every second of her audience’s attention.

The 16-year-old Edward Little High School sophomore spent weeks gathering footage for her 3-minute, 25-second documentary, “Over Censored.”

Her payoff will come April 6, when she attends the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival. Though she’ll be accompanied by an entourage of family and friends, she’s most looking forward to sharing her story with strangers.

“Three minutes and 25 seconds of their lives are going to be devoted to my film,” Wise said. “The entire concept of that is great.”

It’s cinema. And for Wise and other young filmmakers, that’s enough. It’s an attitude that festival director Joshua Shea hopes will spread throughout this year’s event.

“There is not much jadedness from these kids,” Shea said. “You just have people who are really excited and really energetic and can’t wait to show this little thing they made.”

Though the festival will enter its third year when it kicks off April 4, the student competition is new. That competition began with two semifinal rounds, drawing a total of 50 entries. They have since been winnowed down to seven finalists viewing for a prize and four honorable mentions. All 11 will be screened during the festival at the Lewiston Public Library.

Among the finalists are students from Freeport High School, Sanford High School, Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., Hermon High School, Thorton Academy in Saco, Freeport High School and students from Lewiston and Auburn.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Wise’s film, a pair of projects from Fryeburg Academy, and a widely viewed film about the local teen homeless population titled, “Homeless Youth in Lewiston … Who They Are & What Can You Do?” It was created by the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council.

Amber Thibault, a 20-year-old Lewiston native, became a finalist with her film, “The End,” a story about kids who think they’re going to college but end up in an Orwellian nightmare.

The Ithaca College sophomore made the film after talking with a friend, who insisted that lives would be better without emotion. She began imagining a world where emotions were taken away.

“I can see sci-fi people absolutely loving it,” Shea said. However, Thibault won’t get to see their reaction. The cinema and photography student will instead be working as an intern for a festival at her school, the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.

At home in Lewiston, her parents and friends plan to attend in her place.

“As we get closer, I’ll probably be like, ‘Aww, I don’t get to be there,'” she said.

Lilly Linscott, an Edward Little classmate of Meggie Wise, will also have a film in the running for the top student prize.

She described Linscott’s film, titled “Dream Big, She Did,” as a “sweet little valentine to her sister.”

Using Skype, Linscott interviewed her big sister, Rebecca, who is an art student at a New Hampshire college.

“She’s in love with art, and she goes for an art school,” said Linscott, who weaved images of Rebecca’s art with the interview and video that Rebecca captured.

The movie already drew applause from its most important audience, Rebecca.

“She loved it,” Linscott, 15, said. “She cried.”

Edward Little High School teacher Sean Rice, who taught Wise and Linscott in his documentary class last fall, said the girls have impressed him with their skill. And he’s hoping to steer more youths to the festival.

After all, during the first festival in 2011, Rice asked Shea to consider creating a place for student creations. When Shea announced the student competition last fall, he hustled to encourage his students to enter.

“I didn’t expect it to happen so soon,” Rice said.

Next year, he’ll be ready. So will many of the students, armed with smartphones and cameras.

“Almost every kid in the school walks around with a camera in their pocket,” Rice said. It makes everyone a potential filmmaker, he said.

To Shea, there’s simple joy in seeing the first-time filmmakers take pride in their work.

“They’re excited that they’re going to have films in the festival,” said Shea, who has talked with dozens of adult filmmakers as the event grows near.

“It’s not a matter of ‘How big is the screen going to be?’ and ‘Is the audio going to be perfect?’ and ‘What time is my film going to be shown?’ They don’t have any thoughts of ‘Is this going to win an Oscar?’ or this is anything more than it is.”

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Finalists in the Student Competition of the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival

“Analogous,” 4 minutes, 30 seconds. This experimental look at similarities in life by Callee Thompson and Rochely Zapata of Pinkerton Academy, in Derry, N.H., won Best in Show at the 2012 New Hampshire High School Film Festival.

“Dream Big, She Did,” 6 minutes. This film by Edward Little High School student Lilly Linscott is a loving tribute to her sister, Rebecca.

“The End,” 7 minutes, 42 seconds. This dystopian story from Lewiston native Amber Thibault reimagines college as a sort of concentration camp.

“The Road Back,” 32 minutes, 30 seconds. This film, by Faith Bishop of Hermon High School, looks at living with a mental illness.

“Until I Open My Eyes,” 3 minutes, 26 seconds. Freeport student Alec Salisbury, with assistance from Daniel Sinclair, created a music video for local artist Kalie Shorr’s title song.

“Waking Up,” 41 minutes. Sanford High School Film Club tells a story about a terrifying close call.

Honorable Mention films

“Just My Imagination,” 3 minutes, 25 seconds. Filmmaker Nurbu Sherpa made this shorty with the Fryeburg Academy Film Workshop.

“Homeless Youth in Lewiston … Who They Are & What Can You Do?” 40 minutes. The Lewiston Youth Advisory Council created this documentary about homeless children and teens in the community.

“Northeast Archaeology, Molly Ockett Dig 2012,” 3 minutes, 36 seconds. Fryeburg Academy Film Workshop student Logan Gerchman examined an archaeological dig performed by Northeast Archeology at Molly Ockett Middle School in Fryeburg.

“Over Censored,” 3 minutes, 35 seconds. Edward Little High School sophomore Meggie Wise interviewed artist Judy Taylor about her controversial mural, removed from state Department of Labor offices.

The films will be shown Saturday, April 6, during the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival at the Lewiston Public Library. The screenings are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Anyone holding a Saturday and Sunday day ticket to the festival will be admitted. Tickets cost $24 for adults and $15 for students.

For more information on the festival, go to lafilmfestival.org.


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