Beyond the Peaks Film Festival Results

AdkAction’s inaugural “Beyond the Peaks Student Film Festival” took place at The Wild Center on May 10. The film festival was created in close partnership with Tupper Lake Central School District’s film class and the event shattered expectations for a first-year festival.

In total, 50 student films from 7 school districts in the Adirondacks were submitted to the festival. Prizes and trophies were awarded for 9 film categories: Animation, Public Service Announcement, Drama, Documentary, Open, Made in the Adirondacks, Comedy, Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Audience Choice Award. All the winning films are available for viewing at

The winners were: “True Colors,” created by Mackenzie Burnett and William Strack from Tupper Lake High School, won the Animation category. The film tackled tough topics like self-acceptance, being different, and letting one’s authentic self shine.

“You’re a Wizard Harry” by Carley LaRose from Newcomb High School won the Comedy category and featured impressive special effects. “50 Years Cemented in Time: The Kathleen Bigrow Story” by Kasandra Sipler from Tupper Lake High School won the Documentary category. The film showcased a local photographer who captured the spirit of the Adirondacks with her prolific portfolio of daily life.

Famous actor Sean Weil, best known for his roles in “Jessica Jones,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and “Law & Order,” announced the winner of the Drama category.  “Sature,” created by Timofey Valov from Newcomb High School ,won with a deeply moving film that tacked the difficult topic of suicide. “Back in Time” by Kristina Khudiakova from Newcomb High School took top honors in the Horror/Sci-fi/Fantasy category with her psychological thriller that reminded the audience to pay attention to the people around, even if they aren’t the star of the show.

A crowd favorite, “Mountain is Mountain” created by Kristina Khudiakova from Newcomb High School, took home the Made in the Adirondacks category. The classic skier vs. snowboarder feud had a surprise ending and superb production quality. The Open category invited longer films, up to 15 minutes. The winning film was “The Visitor” created by Kanatires Barreiro, Autumn Benedict, Sohrenhes George, and Ienonkwahawis from Salmon River High School. The film tells the story of how the creator brought the gift of plant medicines to the Bear Clan people.

“Don’t be Stupid” created by Lawrence Lobdel from Westport High School won the Public Service Announcement category. Finally, “Lockdown” by Hallie Hurwitz, Elizabeth Hynes, Alibra Rodriguez, Ireland Sample, and Bryn Walsh from Beekmantown High School won the Audience Choice Award for their powerful portrayal of the emotional toll of school shootings.

Special thanks to Tupper Lake Supply, Adirondack Credit Union, Cuttin’ Room Hair Salon, Gillis Realty, Raquette River Brewing,The Lumberjack Restaurant, Shaheen’s IGA, Lee Kyler (the emcee for the evening), Kate Santana, and the Tupper Lake Central school district, Superintendent Mr. Seth McGowan, for believing in this project and providing unending support.

We are also thankful to Skills21 at EdAdvance for the use of their Launchpad software, and their expert assistance every step of the way. Special thanks to The Wild Center for hosting “Beyond the Peaks.”

This project was also made possible with the funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Teachers and students interested in participating in Beyond the Peaks Film Festival in 2020 are welcome to email to be added to the contact list for next year. AdkAction is a nonprofit with a mission to create projects that address unmet needs, promote vibrant communities, and preserve the character of the Adirondacks.  More info at

Photo credit: Kate Santana


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