Blind teen’s story impresses America
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.
Sophie Meszaros, Shelly-ann Cochrane, Isabelle Pearson, Lily Bendy and Jayke Hopa.