Patch sat down with filmmaker Nic Weinfeld, a 17-year-old Silver Spring native, whose award-winning film “The 36” is one of the festival's featured films, to gain his perspective on taking part in this prestigious event.
Patch: How did you become interested in film making?
Nic Weinfeld: I’ve been interested in film making since an early age, and have been lucky to be presented with a lot of opportunities. Through a media literacy program at Silver Spring International Middle School – which teaches kids to understand stories through films - I made some commercials and found that I took it more seriously than peers and wanted to get into it. My parents were supportive and found an American University graduate student mentor for me. I worked with him once a week, like a math or other type of tutor.
Patch: How did you come to base your film on the Jewish concept of Lamed vav Zaddkim, that there are 36 people placed on earth in each generation to do what is right and good?
N.W: I had originally heard of the concept through my parents family friends. While my family is not very religious (I may be the most religious), I think that by exploring this idea, it was my exploration of religion. I was more interested in sharing this idea, which I see as similar to the concept of angels in Christianity. I think it’s just powerful and spiritual and I wanted to portray it in film.
Patch: You are very accomplished at a relatively young age, what advice would you give to young people who may not have access to the same resources you did?
N.W: I think that it’s easy to get discouraged about the lack of equipment and resources – but you have to just think about the story and that’s what matters. If you are really excited about your subject, it will show no matter how limited your resources may be – don’t let it limit you. Do whatever is necessary to get your message across.
Patch: You’ve participated in a number of festivals, what does it mean to you to be part of film festival in Silver Spring?
N.W: It’s really exciting to have this in my hometown. This is one of the festivals I really wanted to get into and be a part of, and the fact that they are putting so much emphasis on my film in particular is an honor. Being in a Jewish film festival, gives me an opportunity to compete against other films with similar themes, rather than against other filmmakers that are my age. I think it’s better to be classified thematically rather than by age.
Patch: What’s next for you?
N.W: I’m finishing up my senior thesis at Interlochen Arts Academy, and continuing to work on music videos and other small projects. I’m also applying for college – including Wesleyan Connecticut, USC, NYU and Tufts, Vassar and Sarah Lawrence College.
While Weinfeld’s film will screen at American University’s Greenberg Theatre on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 5:15 p.m., 12 films will be presented at the AFI:
- Saturday, Dec. 3: 7 p.m. Je T'aime, I Love You Terminal, 9:15pm Kaddish for a Friend
- Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011: 1 p.m. Incessant Visions - Letters from an Architect with Omer 5769, 3 p.m. Lenin in October with Orders of Love
- Monday, Dec. 5, 2011: 7 p.m. In Heaven Underground, 9:15pm Wunderkinder
- Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011: 7 p.m. My Champion and Tackling Peace , 9:15pm In Another Lifetime
- Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011: 7 p.m. Eichmann's End: Love, Betrayal, Death, 9:15pm Reuniting the Rubins
- Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011: 7 p.m. David, 9:15pm Love During Wartime