I make a point of trying to attend the showcase every year, and it never fails to delight. I'm so enamored with this event that I hesitated before deciding to write about it because I've long considered the show put on by these talented teenagers to be my little secret, and I selfishly want to be sure of getting a seat.
The films, while raw and amateurish, are also wonderfully creative and promising, and often contain nuggets of pure, unpracticed brilliance. The enthusiasm and excitement displayed by the young Spielbergs-to-be is downright infectious.
"Some are school films, some are just a teen with a camera," said Leslie Feibleman, the festival's director of special programs. "You can tell they're really passionate about their subjects."
Feibleman, a busy Newport Beach mom and an unpaid volunteer who organizes the youth showcase each year, is equally passionate about the teenagers' projects. When I asked her why she's so committed, she laughed.
"My husband asks me that, too," she said. "I don't get my nails done, but I love doing this. We are helping to keep the arts alive in the community."
The selection always includes an array of genres, including comedy, drama, romance, documentary and animation. Over the years I've seen a wide range of entertaining but vastly different offerings. One of my favorites was a tongue-in-cheek take on film noir featuring a Philip Marlowe-type detective who was bent on catching jaywalkers. Another memorable entry was a musical, with an original score, about zombies in love.
Yet another, a moving documentary called "Untouchable," which chronicled the plight of a group of outcasts in India who are denied basic human rights.