Kaylynn Romero Jennicka Ramirez
Starlight Elementary School students Kaylynn Romero (left) and Jennicka Ramirez show an Oscar Award Tuesday night at the Pajaro Valley Unified School District's Oscars Night at the Mello Center. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Dozens of students in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District walked the red carpet Tuesday night at the Edward James Olmos’ Latino Film Institute’s Youth Cinema Project’s Oscar Awards ceremony. The family-oriented event at the Mello Center featured 25 films that were created by students, with help from the Watsonville Film Festival, ranging from fourth grade to 12th.

Over the school year, students from Starlight Elementary School, Hall District, Pajaro Middle School, Cesar Chavez Middle School and Pajaro Valley High School worked with film mentors to write scripts, produce, direct and edit their own films.

Starlight Elementary School student Kaylynn Romero and a crew of classmates produced a short film, “Scarlet’s Adventure to Find Her Friend,” while student Jennicka Ramirez and her team made “Championship Adventure.”

“It was fun, but it was really hard,” Kaylynn said.

Other films included the titles “Baby Dino,” “Confidence,” “Father Time,” “Possessed Doll,” and “King Gummy vs. BigFoot.” In some scenes, students took on issues such as bullying, jealousy, parental separation, lying and its consequences, in addition to science fiction spaceships, time travel and bad dreams.

“Film gives us a voice that resonates both far and wide,” PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said. “All these young filmmakers embrace vision. The PVUSD Oscars Night has become a tradition in our District and community that embraces youth talent in their expression of their unique voice and passion.” 

Of the fourth annual, four-hour event, Consuelo Alba, executive director of the Watsonville Film Festival, added, “We are thrilled to partner with PVUSD and Edward James Olmos’ Latino Film Institute’s Youth Cinema Project to celebrate the creativity of our local young filmmakers, encourage them to tell their own stories and nurture the filmmaking ecosystem in Watsonville.” 

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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