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Cottonwood Creek Wins at Sundial Film Festival

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Students' fairy tale entered at Sundial Film Festival

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While Saturday’s Sundial Film Festival at the Cascade Theatre is intended to showcase the North State’s filmmaking talent, organizers only require eligible films be associated with the region, either by their subject or a member of the cast or production team.

That latitude allowed Ben Keeline, a teacher at Cottonwood Creek Charter School, to submit the first part of an animated film his students have been creating in cooperation with students at a grade school in Ireland.

Keeline said the idea of a collaboration surfaced while traveling in Ireland a couple of years ago and after a lengthy search, he connected with James Brennan, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Bohermeen National School in County Meath, a parish located about an hour northwest of Dublin.

Keeline’s students wrote the screenplay for “Split,” an animated fairy tale (with no relation to the M. Night Shyamalan thriller of the same name) and the Bohermeen students provided the authentic Irish dialogue. The young filmmakers exchanged files via the internet.

“It was an adventure,” Keeline said. “We got a laptop to them and a microphone, but the mic stand didn’t make it, so they had the tallest kid in the class hold the microphone.” During the process, Keeline’s students picked up some Irish jargon, like “giving it socks,” and learned about the curative properties of tea in the United Kingdom.

“The Irish kids are very excited and there are some festivals over there they’re looking at entering,” Keeline said, adding that “it’s been so much fun for my kids to see a bigger world.”

The Sundial Film Festival, now in its ninth year, is presented by the Active 20-30 Club of Redding to encourage the film industry “and show that not all films have to be made down south,” according to Eleah Ervin, the festival chairwoman.

The Cottonwood Creek Charter School film will be shown during the afternoon Silver Screen session along with other student and animated films. The evening Premiere Show will feature 11 films, including Katelyn Alexander’s “Red Balloons” about a woman and a mysterious stranger’s examination of the past and Evan Weidenkeller’s “Dreams We Share” that details the dreams two girls share in the midst of a dystopian civil war.

“It kind of blows my mind that we have this much talent in the area,” Ervin said. The festival is the principal fundraiser for the Active 20-30 Club of Redding and proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction will allow club members to treat children from low-income families to a day of back-to-school shopping that includes new shoes, a new backpack and eye and dental exams.

Festival winners will be announced Saturday evening. The Best of Festival film will be awarded $1,000 and a trophy while films capturing best narrative, documentary and animation will each be awarded $500 and a medallion.

Audience members will be encouraged to text their votes to determine the People’s Choice award, which will include a $100 prize and a medallion.

What: Ninth annual Sundial Film Festival

Where: Cascade Theatre

When: Silver Screen Show, 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday; Premiere Show, 7 to 10 p.m.