Blind teen’s story im­presses Amer­ica

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

It may have been called the 2016 All Amer­i­can High School Film Fes­ti­val but this year an in­spi­ra­tional story about a blind New Zealan­der also made the fi­nals.

The Jayke Hopa Story, which is a short film about a Pu­taruru Col­lege year 10 stu­dent who is com­pletely blind, was one of eight films to make the fi­nals in the in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion and the only one from out­side of Amer­ica to do so.

Made in 2015 by, then, Year 10 ex­ten­sion stu­dents So­phie Meszaros, Shelly-ann Cochrane, Is­abelle Pear­son, and Lily Bendy, the movie fea­tures Jayke’s daily life at school, mu­si­cal tal­ents and ever-ra­di­at­ing smile. It was screened at the AMC Em­pire Theatre in New York City’s Times Square.

With 1850 sub­mis­sions from 40 coun­tries, mak­ing the fi­nal cut was by no means a small feat.

So­phie said it was com­pletely un­ex­pected.

‘‘We def­i­nitely didn’t ex­pect it, it was cool. We were a fi­nal­ist in the mid­dle school cat­e­gory and we were the only one from out­side of the States within those fi­nal­ists and one of those was also made by a teacher so it is pretty in­cred­i­ble,’’ she said.

‘‘We have prob­a­bly an­noyed some Amer­i­cans who’ll be think­ing

‘‘It makes me feel quite happy for me be­cause ev­ery­one across Amer­ica that went there now knows who I am.’’ Jayke Hopa

th­ese New Zealand peo­ple have taken their fi­nal­ist spot,’’ she laughed.

She and her fel­low film­mak­ers now wish they had of been able to at­tend the fes­ti­val in per­son.

‘‘We were sur­prised mostly be­cause there were lots and lots of en­tries and we thought we would have just gone over there to sit and watch heaps of films and never ac­tu­ally move higher up in the com­pe­ti­tion,’’ she said.

‘‘We wish we could have gone over now, it would have been re­ally cool as it was a huge thing be­ing a fi­nal­ist in an in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.’’

Jayke said he was pleased by the suc­cess of his story and that it had touched so many lives.

‘‘It makes me feel quite happy for me be­cause ev­ery­one across Amer­ica that went there now knows who I am. I will now be able to roll up to Amer­ica and say hey there,’’ he joked.

The stu­dents are now pre­par­ing to take part in the Fair Go Kids Ad Awards.

LUKE KIRKEBY/ FAIR­FAX NZ

So­phie Meszaros, Shelly-ann Cochrane, Is­abelle Pear­son, Lily Bendy and Jayke Hopa.

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