Collegiate students films on display in film festival

Norfolk Collegiate students swept last year’s Elie Wiesel Visual Arts competition, and now their works are scheduled to be featured in the 23rd Annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film on Sunday, Jan. 17, at the Roper Theater in Norfolk at 7 p.m.

Eighth-grade students Brooke Rogers ’20 and Elizabeth Hughes ’20 made their mark in the 2015, Elie Wiesel Visual Arts competition by earning first- and second- place in the junior division.

The Elie Wiesel competition is hosted annually by the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Middle and high school students participate in writing and visual arts competitions named in Elie Wiesel’s honor. Wiesel is a Romanian-born Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor.

Students select the category they wish to enter to prepare a project for the around the topic of the competition.

Collegiate is no stranger to the competition as our students have competed for nearly 10 years with our most recent winners being Brooke and Elizabeth and last year’s third- place winner Mitchell Maguire ’19.

Brooke created a dynamic video from the eyes of a young German girl who hears of Hitler and disapproves of his methods. Her film is titled From the Other Side and takes the perspective of a young girl who perceives everyone around her to be brainwashed and she decides to take a stand for what is right.

“There was something about the project that really intrigued me,” said Brooke. “It was a great experience to learn more about the Holocaust and then be able to put together a film which showed my opinions and understanding of the event.”

Elizabeth tells the story of a world without intolerance, outcasts, discrimination or oppression. Her film is titled Imagine and she tells the story of her grandfather’s personal experience as a Holocaust survivor.   

“I am Jewish, and I have always had the desire to participate in the competition,” said Elizabeth. “I already knew much about the Holocaust because my grandparents survived it and my grandfather fought during it; this was a great opportunity for me to learn more.”

“Our students truly gained a different level of understanding for humanity,” said Julie Hastings, middle school English teacher. “Injustices in daily life can lead to hatred and this project allowed our students to understand and know that it’s okay for them to speak out against discrimination.”

The competition allows students to add their personal touch along with historical facts.

Imagine is a film that talks about my grandfather’s story and the story of Hans and Sofie Scholl,” said Elizabeth. “The preparation for the film was very hard because we constantly had to redo our video to make it as special and meaningful as possible,” she said. “I would encourage students to enter the competition because this is a good way for them to really understand what the Holocaust was really about.”

Brooke and Elizabeth’s creativity flourished during the creation of their projects.

“I would encourage students to participate in this project,” said Brooke. “I started the project feeling really passionate about it. I wasn’t doing it for a grade or to try to win, but rather to create a piece of art that I thought showed true meaning and my creativity,” she said. “To students participating in the future, just put all of your effort into making your entry and creating something that shows your style and be proud of your work.”

“Collegiate has been leading the way for the use of new technology in the competition,” said Hastings. “Since we are an iPad® driven school and alternative learning is a part of our curriculum, our students continue to wow me with their out-of-the-box concepts for the project.”

To view Brooke and Elizabeth’s films, please click here.

The film festival, which is open to the public, celebrates new films and filmmakers of Jewish life and culture.

For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, click here.