by Tomi Tunrarebi
Four School of Cinematic Arts student films won Student Academy Awards on October 11th. The awards celebrated the best films of 1500 films submitted from 400 schools around the world and many of them focused on social issues, including climate change, gender equity, immigration and anti-Semitism (for a full list of the winners: https://www.oscars.org/saa).
Among them was Lalo’s House a film that sheds light on child trafficking, and was mentored by MISC Executive Director Michael Taylor. Filmed on location in Haiti, it was the thesis film of director Kelley Kali who was inspired to make it after witnessing a Haitian Catholic orphanage that was a front for a child trafficking ring. She wanted the film to raise awareness about child trafficking, which happens around the world, including in the United States. The film has been screening in the U.S. and in Haiti. Notably, it was screened at a United Nations event to encourage the New York State Legislature to close a loophole in state law that required children to testify against their traffickers (a new law passed).
Taylor said Lalo’s House is a great example of the kind of content MISC champions. “It is an entertaining movie with a terrific story, but it also has a very powerful message,” he said. “It was intended for social change, and then it went out into the world and got used as an agent for social change.” Taylor added he was encouraged that so many of the Student Academy Award films focused on social issues. “Young filmmakers are using their art to comment on issues that are important to them, and to our world. That’s very inspiring.”