Colgan student Kait SvrlingaKait Svrlinga, a rising sophomore at Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School, won first place at the second annual JxJ District of Columbia Teen Film Festival, which is part of the broader 34th Washington Jewish Film Festival and the 23rd Washington Jewish Music Festival. Svrlinga’s film titled, “Sparks,” had its world premiere at the festival.

Participants are invited to submit a short film, ranging from one to three minutes, addressing the theme “What’s the future?” In response, Svrlinga produced a film depicting a deer who initially seeks self-preservation. However, upon recalling their youthful acts of kindness, they are inspired to once again assist their peers, just as in their youth. This rekindled spirit ignites a ‘spark’ within them, empowering them to make positive changes.

With an eye on the future, Svrlinga’s purpose for creating the film was to share a message and increase exposure for their work as a filmmaker stating, “It means a lot to me that my film was selected, and it felt as though my message was important and seen, it also meant that I was recognized for my abilities. I am exceptionally grateful for this opportunity, and I wish to inspire others to share similar stories in whatever medium they see fit.”

Svrlinga collaborated with another Colgan High rising sophomore, William Aspinwall, from their shared history class to direct the music and audio for the film.

Svrlinga attributes the support of many teachers in the creation of their film. Their advice for a classmate or peer who is interested in submitting a film but is hesitant to get started is, “though [film creation] may seem daunting at first, it is good to set up a storyboard and then animate in chunks. It does take many hours to animate but it will be a lot easier if you cut the work into sections.”

The contest is open to all teens ages 13-18. As the winner from the 13-15 age group, Svrlinga received a $500 gift card.

The runner-up for the 13-15 category was Colgan rising sophomore, Petra McMahan.