Young Filmmakers Face Crisis

Student Film Festival Struggles During Pandemic

The art of filmmaking is advancing in the Adirondacks, despite some severe obstacles the virus situation created this year. A festival lets North Country kids compete in a film making challenge, but in only its second year of existence, the Beyond the Peaks student film festival faced severe threats from COVID-19.

Learn how the festival survived the crisis in this interview by Spotlight producer Paul Larson with festival co-director Wendy Cross, and festival award-winner Haley Denis of Tupper Lake Middle High School. 

The Beyond the Peaks student film festival is an initiative of ADKAction in conjunction with Tupper Lake School District. It encourages junior high and high school students in the Adirondack region to write, produce, direct and star in their own short films.

Congratulations to all the festival winners! Here are the top choices according to voters for the audience choice award:

1st Place – “Helium” by Mackenzie Burnett Tupper Lake, Open category
2nd Place – “Green Week” by Libby Gillis, Tupper Lake, One for the Park category
3rd Place – “Nature’s Beauty” by Hayley Denis, Road Trip category

Festival judges said winning projects in the 2020 contest were created by the following students and groups: William Strack, Kaylee Rabideau, Libby Gillis, Mackenzie Burnett, Hayley Denis, all of Tupper Lake, Tupper Lake Film Class, Tupper Lake Tale Tellers, and Wilden Bruce of Schroon Lake.

Funding for audio and video equipment prizes plus cash awards was provided by ADKAction and Lake Placid Institute.

If you’d like to see all the award-winning films from the Beyond the Peaks festival this year, you’ll find them in the “Explore Projects” section at

Spotlight is made possible, in part, by the Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life for year-round residents of the Adirondack Park.  Spotlight is also supported by Hill & Hollow Music.