Why are homosexuals discriminated against in the U.S.?
It's a question 18-year-old Daniel Lachman asked a handful of people, ranging from actors to protestors to Mormon clergy, for his senior project this year. The Las Lomas High School student filmed their answers, and the result is a thought-provoking half-hour film on the emotions and perceptions that shape the same-sex marriage debate.
Lachman's documentary was one among several student films showcased at the annual Las Lomas Film Festival at the Walnut Creek school's theater Wednesday and Thursday nights. Filmmakers displayed some works whimsical and others wise, some musical and some mute.
"It's just a way for us to share what we've done this year," said Lachman, who's also president of the school's film club.
There is no film class at the high school. There is, however, a collection of students passionate about the medium. They meet throughout the school year to talk about film, learn about it and create it, Lachman said. Their work is what engendered this week's two-day festival.
"We don't learn about it in class or anything, but we do get together and talk about it," said Lachman, who's heading off to New York University as a film major in the fall. "We see what everyone is working on and we give feedback."
From 150 to 200 parents, students and their friends attended each night of the event. Some who enjoyed the first night came back again Thursday, only the second time with friends.
"I came back because I really enjoyed it," said Elizabeth Ivy, 16, who's coming back to Las Lomas in the fall as a junior. "It was really well done."
She attended Thursday's screening with her mom and a friend, Breanne Johnson, 15, who said she's impressed by her peers' cinematic skills.
A short film, called "The Little Magician," about a boy performing a simple magic trick for a homeless man in New York especially caught her attention, she said.
"It was very professional," Johnson said. "I was so impressed."
Festival-goers viewed a variety of works, including clips of super-hero pets, lip-synced music videos, stop-action montages and a quirky dramaedy by Las Lomas senior Max Marriner about a neophyte actor stressing out over his college acting audition.
"I watch this and think about how when I was 18, when I was 16, I couldn't have done this," said Erica Boden, 24, who popped in Wednesday after spotting a poster advertising the event. "There's a lot of talent here."
At a glance
Check out one of the festival's films, Lachman's "The Little Magician," on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDxDgH20kBU.