My KDL Story: Emily Livermore

"[Winning awards at the Kent County Teen Film Festival] was one of the best moments I've ever had... I loved being able to see [my film] up there and feel the audience's reactions..."

Emily Livermore

Walking away with honors from the Kent County Teen Film Festival — the first she had ever entered — was a thrill for Emily Livermore. Even more thrilling for the 16-year-old was seeing her creation in a movie theater and watching how people responded.

"It was one of the best moments I've ever had," said Emily, a junior at East Grand Rapids High School. "It's such a big screen... I loved being able to see it up there and feel the audience's reactions."

Emily's documentary, "Finding Paradise," about a Northern Michigan family of homesteaders' adventures driving to and living for a year in Bolivia, earned "Best Documentary Short" and "Best Director" at the 2013 festival.

"I've been making movies since I was a little girl," Emily said. "I love the idea of telling stories through film and making people feel emotions through images."

Films selected for the eighth annual Kent County Teen Film Festival will be screened at Celebration! Cinema North on Saturday, February 22, 2014, from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Prizes for the juried event, sponsored by Kent District Library, CompuCraft, Celebration! Cinema, Grand Rapids Public Library and the Pure Michigan film office, include gift cards for Celebration! Cinema and Apple and a scholarship to the Compass College of Cinematic Arts' summer film camp.

KDL adult services librarian Kelaine Mish started the festival in 2007 when she was a teen paraprofessional at the East Grand Rapids branch and East Grand Rapids and Forest Hills school districts were developing film creation classes.

"I thought it would be fun to give them more glory and honor for all their work," Kelaine said.

The library's Teen Advisory Board helped preview submissions, and films were screened at the city's Parks & Recreation Department. As word and media attention spread, the festival has attracted expert judge filmmakers and film media.

In recent years, KDL has added film and video workshops for teens throughout the year, and the Cascade Township branch offers a video editing suite that's available year-round. Emily has taken advantage of the free workshops, where she learned about local resources for film enthusiasts to borrow video equipment at no charge.

For Emily, the festival has played a pivotal role in shaping her career aspirations.

"It's helped me figure out that film would be a good direction for me. My goal is not to be some famous producer-director that everybody knows. It's just having a job working in film. That would be success for me."


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