Filmmakers Impress Judges With Health-Focused Movies

Soon-to-be-seniors Anu Akingbade, Anika Kapoor envision storytelling careers

The Hockaday School students Anu Akingbade and Anika Kapoor aim to inspire others through filmmaking and storytelling. 

Focusing their cameras on sensitive topics like the relationship between mental and sexual health has reaped award results.

They’ve placed three consecutive years in the Healthy Futures of Texas (HFTX) Student Film Contest — the only students to do so in the competition’s nine-year history — and still have their senior year to go. They won first place in 2022, staff favorite in 2023, and third place in 2024.

“I’m glad that our films connected with people and made them feel comfortable with these subjects,” Anika said.

Anu noted how exciting it is to watch their three-minute film on the big screen and see the positive reactions to often serious themes. 

“I think that is something that keeps drawing us to that film festival,” she said.

The teens learned about the contest from Glenys Quick, their first film teacher, who encouraged them to make a movie and enter.

The contest challenges students to submit a three-minute film aimed at helping “adults understand the issues and pressures teens really face.”

This year’s prompt: Mental Health and Sex Ed — what’s the connection?

To come up with ideas, the students reflected on their experiences, as well as those of others to be able to correctly relay the story in a respectful and informative way, Anu said, adding that the process can’t be done in one day.

“We are eternally grateful for (HFTX) giving us that platform to make films we love and share our own perspectives,” Anika said.

Added Anu, they appreciated the “opportunity to be able to share our vision and our perspectives on the big screen for three years now.” 

The young filmmakers also thanked film teacher Robert Weiss for helping them with scripts, notes, and editing; science teacher Stephen Balog for assisting with technical issues; and coach Adaku Ebeniro for educating them about health, the reproductive system, and topics such as birth control.

Anika hopes to pursue filmmaking in her future. 

“I find it to be an extremely powerful form of self-expression,” she said, adding a filmmaker can go from “being stuck in your head to being able to translate that vision onto the screen.” 

Anu also expects her filmmaking experiences to inform her future. “I hope that no matter what career I end up pursuing, I’m able to tell the stories that often go untold.”

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