Prepare to have your mind blown at the Charles Theater on Thursday, June 7 from 4 to 6 PM, because that’s when you will see the first annual Baltimore High School Film Festival.

While this one-screen event may be more a showcase than a true “festival,” organizer Bea Bufrahi has long term plans for expansion that will allow BHSFF to become a real festival experience.

Bea Bufrahi’s passion and pursuit of this great idea seems natural: she teaches digital media/ graphics at the Baltimore School of the Arts (her husband Mark Durant is the notable professor of photography at UMBC), and she’s a film lover. The festival’s freshman outing is the result of a lot of hard work on Bea’s part, as well as enthusiastic participation by area school administrators such as Linda Popp, the Visual Arts Coordinator at Baltimore County Public Schools, David Heath of Friends School of Baltimore, and many others.  Bea also led a modest crowd-sourcing campaign through Give Corps.  (The project goal has been reached, but they can still use some help!)  Check out “Why We Need the High School Film Festival” below:

 Awareness of the new festival was spread mainly through informal channels and word-of-mouth. Despite these humble means, Bea received eighty-four submissions, categorized into four topics: Narrative, Animation, Documentary, and “The Mix.”  Submissions came largely from Baltimore City and County, but a dozen were also turned in from Harford County (thanks, John Carroll!) and Howard County.  Next, year,that number is expected to quadruple, as is the number of participating counties.  As any programmer knows, it is really difficult to choose just a few films for screening from many great contenders, but in the end, eighteen films were picked for the two-hour screening event.  The festival judges include Matt Porterfield and Lee Gardner.

No one knows how much the BHSFF may grow in the future, but hopes are high.  Bea saw an example of its potential when she traveled to the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) in Seattle last spring.  Inaugurated in 2007, NFFTY bills itself as the premiere showcase of the best young directors (22 and younger) from around the world. It started small, and now it’s a huge event now that even draws Hollywood scouts.

So, all you MFF veterans and cinephiles, head back to the Charles next Thursday for something completely different!