Teens Plan Film Fest of Their Own

TORONTO (AP) — Eric Lively gets lots of fan mail, most of it from teen-age admirers asking how they can break into the movie industry like him. <br><br>Knowing the minuscule chances, the 19-year-old

Wednesday, February 7th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

TORONTO (AP) — Eric Lively gets lots of fan mail, most of it from teen-age admirers asking how they can break into the movie industry like him.

Knowing the minuscule chances, the 19-year-old actor who scored a role in the hit film ``American Pie'' could offer little more than a pithy ``follow your dream'' response — until now.

Lively and other young performers have accepted the role of honorary board members for what is billed as the first international film festival for teen talent.

The Toronto International Teen Movie Festival scheduled for Oct. 27-Nov. 4 will feature films, commercials, music videos, animation, screenplays, Web sites, poster art, public service announcements — just about anything that anyone wants to submit, in just about any format.

Toronto film producer Jonathan Hiltz, 25, his 23-year-old sister Naomi Hiltz and Myles Shane, 26, thought up the idea and secured sponsorship from companies including Levi's and Trojan.

The idea is to let teen-agers submit their own work and see what happens. To Lively and the other performers supporting the cause, it means an opportunity they never had.

``We've all been lucky to get where we are,'' he said, giving his shaggy head a shake. ``But something like this can make it not so much luck. It can make it more talent.''

Submissions must arrive by Aug. 1 to be judged, first by panels that will include teen-agers and then by the festival organizers and sponsors themselves. Entries will be divided into two age groups — 19 to 13 years old, and 13 and under.

It culminates in what organizers are calling a weeklong block party at a Toronto movie theater, where winners will be announced and screened.

If successful, the festival could spawn scholarships to university film programs for the winners and bring deals and agents for participants.

Gabrielle Union, another honorary board member and a rising star after her performance in the hit film ``Bring It On,'' raised the question of censorship at last week's news conference announcing the festival, asking if submissions would be altered or rejected because of content.

Jonathan Hiltz responded that he expected ``not too much censorship,'' saying the festival would ``pick movies that are suitable but also express vision.''

To Union, that goes against the purpose of creating a teen film forum. Established scriptwriters tend to be 40-year-olds out of touch with teen reality, she said.

``I think (the teen perspective) needs to be seen. I think we need to be appalled and shocked,'' Union said.

One news conference, and already a controversy.

This festival appears to be on its way.


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