St. Stephen's Church launches Third Eye student film festival

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On Saturday, St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Marble Hill hosted the inaugural Third Eye Film Festival. Four film students from the Third Eye Film Institute showed their works to an audience of family and friends. 

Edmar Flores founded the Third Eye Film Institute in 2014 as part of a slate of educational programs in the Saxrack Learning Center, Inc., an organization run out of St. Stephen’s.

Mr. Flores, who was born in Honduras and raised in Marble Hill, said he started making movies when he was a kid, after a neighbor gave him a Super 8 camera. “I pressed the trigger and went crazy over it,” he explained.

Now a trained filmmaker who has worked on a wide variety of projects, Mr. Flores said, “I’ve been blessed to travel and work on big films.” But he felt something was missing. He came to St. Stephen’s, and had a realization. 

“At some point, you have to give back,” he said. “Why not share it?”

At the Third Eye Film Institute, students learn all about the filmmaking process, including writing, directing, production work, and editing. “I said to myself, it would be cool to start a film festival,” he recalled. “I guess God just knocked me in the head.”

Mr. Flores thought hosting a festival would be a good way to expose his students to another aspect of filmmaking: audience feedback. He explained that it’s important for directors to see and hear a crowd’s reaction to their work.

“This is your film, this is your baby, you have to own it,” he said.

The day before the festival, Mr. Flores pulled up one of his student’s films on his laptop. This one was by Keita Anu, a 16-year-old who has been with Third Eye Film Institute for over a year. Her film, which was about three minutes long, depicts a woman outside of a church talking to God. At first, she’s angry. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she explains that the last time she was in a church it was for her parents’ funeral. Now, her sister is getting married but she doesn’t want to go back into a church. 

But by the end of the short film, the woman had picked herself up and changed her mind. “I’m not alone, because you’re my best friend,” she tells God as the music swells behind her. 

“She did a great job, I’m so proud of her,” Mr. Flores said of Keita. “She’s definitely going to be a great artist.”

Mr. Flores said he hopes the festival will attract more students to the Third Eye Film Institute. Learn more at www.saxracklearningcenter.org.

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