WATCH + PICS: Lights, Camera, American Youth Film Festival 2019 All Access With Allie

American Youth Fim Festival workshop and screening sessions were lit!

By Alejandra Stack, KidNewsMaker founder/publisher/host

Atlanta, Georgia… ‘The Hate U Give’ actress Heaven Hightower ‘s body of work earned her the award for Best Actress at the American Youth Film Festival. The three-day event took place June 12-15, 2019 and had attendees from Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, New York ,Chicago and California. Big sponsors included the Westin and the Fulton County Film Commission. SCROLL TO THE END TO WATCH THE VIDEO AND BE SURE TO PURCHASE A SUMMER 2019 PRINT ISSUE.

KidNewsMaker with teen model/host Jalimah from In The City

I had an all-access pass and was able to attend some of the amazing workshops on improv, filmmaking 101, and getting funding for your project. And did I mention we took a three-hour tour of film sites and studios in Atlanta, some of which I worked on (sigh, y’all still calling me Skipping Girl from ‘The Walking Dead” lol).

Fulton Films was a major sponsor of the Atlanta Youth Film Festival

I also sat in to listen to the panel of industry professionals as they talked about the Future of Film in Georgia. In addition to hosting the panel, fashion designer, author, actress, and speaker Essynce Moore (hey big sis and slay queen!) also hosted the awards show.

Buddies Tori, Allie, Essynce, Taylor and Ayana enjoy some time together after a screening at the American Youth Film Festival

In addition to serving as an official media correspondent for this event, I got to talk to some of the most amazing youth creatives on the red carpet and attend screenings to some short films starring, directed and written by youth.

Essynce Moore hosts a panel on Careers in Film and The Future of Film in Georgia at the American Youth Film Festival

On Wednesday, Microstoft Lennox Mall hosted a meet and greet which was a great way for us to see some tech gear. Then on Thursday we headed to the Westin to do classes in media literacy and video production, screen some films and attend a drone workshop before the “Careers in Film” panel. On Friday, we attended more workshops and saw ore screenings, and got to meet Taylor Richardson of Astronaut Starbright to talk about the documentary on her epic life (other big sis xoxo). STEAM advocate Taylor was the amazing teen who got over 10,000 people out to see ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ and was so amazing that Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duverney invited her to a premiere.

KidNewsMaker Allie and team are challenged to make movies on cellphones as a part of the filmmaking 101 challenge at the American Youth Film Festival

So lets get right down to the 2019 American Youth Film Festival list of winners:

1.       Best Animation – Days of Our Rover by Gerry Orz

2.       Best Foreign Film – the book – the best gift by Alexey Protsenko

3.       Best Comedy – Jesse Ray Sheps Sketch Comedy by Jesse Ray Sheps

4.       Best Documentary – We Are Now by The Gandhi Brigade Youth

Brooklyn 99 actor Ben from Los Angeles is a young filmmaker and director whose project was screened at the festival. It was his first trip to Atlanta.

5.       Best Sci-Fi – A Not So Scary Story by Nick Sherman

6.       Best Suspense – RUN by Michelle Burger

7.       Most Inspirational – Astronaut Star Bright by Lana Turner featuring Taylor Ricardson

8.       Best Georgia Film – File X-35 by Ian Ely & Ben Hofert

Best in Show Elementary School – The Magician Audition by Samuel & Hannah Goergen


9.       Best in Show Elementary School – The Magician Audition by Samuel & Hannah Goergen

10.   Best in Show Middle School – Made In His Image by Anah Ambuchi

11.   Best in Show High School – Driver’s Ed by Dana Koops

12.   Best in Show College – Shifted by Nathan Ragland

Heaven Hightower, known for playing Natasha in ‘the Hate U Give’ and many other projects won best actress for her portfolio! You deserved it!

The Best Young Actress was Sophia Rayne, Best Young Actor was Eli Goss, Best Supporting Actress was Riley Cooper, Best Supporting Actor was William Simmons, Best Actress was Heaven Hightower and Best Actor was Hunter Fischer.

Now for the KidNewsMaker picks. My favorite red carpet look of the night was Sophia Rayne. She came to shut down the red carpet in her custom blue and white gown. Twirl on them Sophia! My favorite male look was William Simmons with his well-fitted suit and gorgeous signature hair.

Anah’s incredible journey to overcome bullying, colorism and accepting her Kenyan heritage was the driving force behind her winning her award as best middle school project. She thanked her mom and Jossie Thacker Harris.

My favorite speech of the night was Anaha Ambuchi who came through with all the #blackgirlmagic in the universe to take a stand against bullying, and colorism. Anah thanked her mom and the legendary dancer, actress, coach and my madre boriqua Jossie Harris Thacker (who plays my mom on ‘Mixed Emotions’) for coaching and inspiring her to tell her story. She talked about being a dark-skinned black girl, coming to terms with her Kenyan name and heritage and simply learning to love herself. Bruh y’all watch the video just to see my interview with her. My favorite session was the improv workshop with Miss Alima Albari who also showed me how to finally take a killer headshot. Love you ma’am and thank you so much for all your help!

Before you watch our video, remember, we rely on viewers like you to help us do what we do. So please consider contributing to us by clicking this link. Video below.

KNM Support
Contributing Sponsors& Partners:
Georgia Box Office, Catapult Acting Studios, Atlanta Grip Truck, Class Clown Films, Atlanta Movie Tours, Green Lit Atl, Fulton Films, That’s My Photobooth, ReImagine ATL, Honey Hive Films, In The City Magazine, Keyshalee T.V., PNA Photography, Alima Industries, Kids Video Connection, Vintage Photography, A Million Stories One Pen LLC, Studio Ninetytwo, KSTB Enterprises, Waston Academy & Twenty 4 Seven Magazine. and KidNewsMaker (omg that’s me!)

So if you are in film, or a creative, you HAVE to get in on this one. I’m already planning to be there next year.

Allie and Tori supporting their friend Taylor Richardson who gave a Q&A on her Astronaut Star Bright documentary.
Hey sis! Alejandra Stack of KidNewsMaker was a red carpet host while fashion designer, speaker and best-selling author Essynce Moore hosted a panel and the main awards ceremony at the Atlanta Youth Film Festial



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