Blind teen’s in­spir­ing story to screen in NYC

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

It’s from small South Waikato town Pu­taruru to the me­trop­o­lis of New York City’s Times Square for Jayke Hopa and his in­spi­ra­tional story.

The Jayke Hopa Story, which is a short film about the Pu­taruru Col­lege year 10 stu­dent who is com­pletely blind, is an of­fi­cial se­lec­tion for the 2016 All Amer­i­can High School Film Festival.

The film, which was made in 2015 by then year 10 ex­ten­sion stu­dents So­phie Meszaros, Shelly-ann Cochrane, Is­abelle Pear­son, and Lily Bendy show­ing Jayke’s daily life at school, mu­si­cal tal­ents, and ever ra­di­at­ing smile, will be screened at the AMC Em­pire The­atre in New York City’s Times Square from Oc­to­ber 7-9.

Im­pres­sively it has made the fi­nal from over 1850 sub­mis­sions and 40 coun­tries.

The film was orig­i­nally made for the New Zealand Fo­cus on Abil­ity short film festival where it was short­listed.

It also won the Wire­less Sto­ry­telling Award dur­ing the Some­day Chal­lenge film com­pe­ti­tion last year and went on to be­come the chal­lenge’s most watched film and shared over 4000 times around the world.

Jayke, who suf­fers from op­tic nerve hy­popla­sia, septo-op­tic dys­pla­sia, and nys­tag­mus, said he was amazed his story had reached so many peo­ple.

‘‘I got an email say­ing it was go­ing to be play­ing in New York’s Times Square and I jumped on Face­book and it had been shared a lot so I am quite stoked every­one knows my name.

The Jayke Hopa Story has gone world­wide, au­to­graphs,’’ he joked.

So­phie, who is in a band with Jayke called Good Vibes, said mak­ing the cut came as a com­plete sur­prise.

‘‘We had no idea we were in it but part of your prize at the Some­day Chal­lenge is that they en­ter you in an in­ter­na­tional film festival.

‘‘It was a bit weird when we got the email say­ing they would love us to come to New York to watch it be­cause it’s a pretty big deal and very ex­cit­ing,’’ she said.

‘‘We would re­ally like to go over and we are def­i­nitely con­sid­er­ing it be­cause it is a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity to have a film play in Times Square.’’

It was al­ways the group’s in­ten­tion to make the film.

‘‘He has a real cool story to tell and he is in­volved in ev­ery­thing so it was some­thing we have al­ways wanted to high­light,’’ she said.

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