The student-produced film, “Las Raices del Corazon” won best film in the “New Jersey Hometown Documentary Short” category at the Garden State Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals on the eastern seaboard. The category is sponsored by the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Winners were announced at a gala/awards ceremony on Sunday, March 26, following three days of festival screenings, events and professional panels that featured 235 films from 23 countries in nine venues in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

The “New Jersey Hometown Documentary Short” category is for student films that are written, directed, shot and edited by students. The films must focus on some aspect of the student’s hometown, such as profiling an interesting person, place, time period or subject related to culture and the arts.

Student filmmaker Yesenia Aguilar-Medina wrote, produced and directed the documentary film that profiles Mexican culture locally in the Collingswood area. Watch this video highlighting the awards and her film.

As a result of Aguilar-Medina’s win, the school district will receive $500 to support its TV/film program. Aguilar-Medina will also receive a certificate from the NJSBA recognizing her achievement.

The film will also be showcased in the prestigious NJSBA Student Film Showcase at Workshop 2023 in Atlantic City Oct. 23-26, 2023.

The first runner-up in the NJSBA-sponsored category was the film, “The Culinary Arts of South Orange” produced by students from Columbia High School in Maplewood/South Orange. Students Stella Grace Williams and Dylan Charles Meda directed the film.

Students interested in submitting their films for consideration for the 2024 festival can visit the Garden State Film Festival website for details. Entries will open in June.