The International School of Beijing (ISB) has continued its successful record at the Hotchkiss Film Festival, with two student films receiving critical acclaim at this year's event.
Each year the festival receives hundreds of short films by high school students worldwide. Grade 11 students Sean B, Austin K, Ian W, and Tony H received an honorable mention for their documentary Jade, which explores the story of a local masseuse and his battle with the skeletal disorder rickets.
"We wanted to explore how Xiao Ma (the masseuse) overcomes his challenges to live the life he wants to live," said Sean, who first met the Shaanxi-born masseuse when he was in second grade.
"Growing up, he was an inspiration to me because of his diligence and unwavering perseverance," he added.
The documentary was conceived, shot, and edited by the four International Baccalaureate (IB) film students in just over a week. Although the festival's submission deadline loomed before spring break when many assessments were due, the boys were determined to enter the competition and contribute to ISB's impressive reputation at the festival.
In 2014, ISB senior Johan Lallerstedt won Best Film at Hotchkiss for his post-apocalyptic thriller Solus, while last year Elaine Li won Best Cinematography for her short film The Street Musician.
Joining the winners' circle for ISB at this year's Hotchkiss Festival were Melanie B, Ryan B, and Talia G who won Best Screenplay for Between the Lines. The film packs drama and mystery as a high school teacher tries to decode a message from a troubled student.
Describing themselves as "a group of perfectionists," the trio spared no effort to ensure their last film produced at ISB was their best work.
"It was hard and there was a lot of reshooting. We didn't place too much emphasis on the cinematography, but when it came to the finer details we tried to ensure we had the best possible lighting, angles, sound, and so on," explained Talia.
Nevertheless, the students had modest expectations heading into the festival.
"We were surprised we made it into the finals, and then even more surprised when it won Best Screenplay," said Melanie, who is preparing to study film and advertising at Brigham Young University.
The film was an artistic showcase of communication and collaboration, all agreed.
"You need everyone's individual talents and personality traits to get things done. We were very well-balanced as a group," Melanie said.