William Aberhart students win best short film at international film festival

Oct. 06, 2014

When William Aberhart High School Grade 11 students Caleb Mueller and Anna Svikhnushin found out their film “Panic” made the finals for best youth short film at the Calgary International Film Festival in August, they had low expectations. After all, they were competing against individuals who had more experience, better equipment, more time and money than they did.

So when their six-minute film about a teenage girl battling depression won the award at the Calgary festival in September, they were ecstatic.

“It was crazy,” said Anna. “I was just happy that we made it to the finals. I never expected to win.” Caleb echoed that comment, saying he was in shock when their entry was announced.

Cathy McKee, the Youth Film Competition coordinator for the International Film Festival, said there were so many entries from all over the world, it was tough to choose, but “Panic” stood out.

“When I watched Anna and Caleb's film, I was immediately drawn into the story. It was an honest depiction of one of the many trials and tribulations of a high school student.  The filming was well done and the storyline was cohesive and believable. I look forward to many more films submitted by CBE students.”

The film originally debuted at the William Aberhart film festival last April, where it won for best screenplay. Rachel MacDonald, the teacher who runs the Abe Film Fest Club, says the school festival receives about 10-15 entries each year.  “I am always impressed by the entries in the festival,” said MacDonald, but “but I was particularly impressed that Grade 10 students could create something so powerful.”

The teens felt it was important to make a film to tell kids that they matter in the world. “Some kids think that if they disappear, they won’t be missed. No one would care or notice,” said Anna. We wanted to show that every life matters, and there is always a large community that cares about you. Caleb and I wanted to make an impact and have the audience connect to the story.”

The students are now planning to enter the film into “The Reel Fun Film Festival” in Calgary in February 2015, and also plan to work together on a new film for this year’s William Aberhart Film Festival.

Anna Svikhnushin and Caleb Mueller

Anna Svikhnushin and Caleb Mueller, winners of Best Short Film - "Panic"

Watch the video here.
Watch Anna and Caleb accepting the award here.