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Youth Fest Event Square
Alexia Ross - Director of You Are What You Wear, Best Documentary Winner - Photo Credit_ Dale Clarke
John Tuohy with Family and Friends - Photo Credit_ Dale Clarke of Peacemaker Photography

About Big Dreams Youth Film Festival


Big Dreams Youth Film Festival (formerly Rahway Film Festival Junior), a Big Dreams and Silver Screens production, is a nonprofit film festival first founded in 2016 and is dedicated to showcasing the filmmaking talents of New Jersey students in Grades 1 through 12


The filmmakers compete for the awards Best Animation, Best Narrative, Best Experimental, Best Music Video, Best Documentary, and Best Film of the Festival.  The category winners receive a BDYFF trophy.  The winner of the Best Film of the Festival award will receive a special screening of their film at our main event, the Westfield International Film Festival.

To learn more about our parent organization, Big Dreams & Silver Screens, please visit the BDSS page.

Our 4th Annual Big Dreams Youth Film Festival took place on May 11, 2019.


To learn more about last year's film festival, please visit the 2018 BDYFF page.



"Camp Friends"

Directed by Madeline Manger

Grade 4 from Westfield


​"Heroes Around Me: Fire Prevention Week with the Mountainside Fire Department"

Directed by Sophie McMeekan

Grade 5 from Scotch Plains


"A Frenchtastic Future" 

Directed by Sidney Nowack

Grade 7 from Basking Ridge


"You Reap What You Sow" 

Directed by Jacob Updyke

Grade 10 from Millburn


"Artist in Progress"

Directed by Emily McNeill and Kera McGovern

Grade from 12 from Colts Neck



Directed by Kyle Farscht

Grade 12 from Millburn



Directed by Amanda Clark

Grade 12 from North Brunswick



Directed by Noah Perez, Emily Ortiz and Michael Garlatti

Grade 12 from South River


Austin Segal

Director of "The Elements"

Grade 11 from Basking Ridge


Sema Madahar

Director of "All for Nothing"

Grade 11 from Milburn



Directed by Amanda Clark

Grade 12 from North Brunswick



(Listed in Alphabetical Order)


"A Frenchtastic Future"

Narrative |  Runtime: 1:57

Director: Sidney Nowack (13)

Grade: Grade 7 from Basking Ridge, NJ

Synopsis: This video was made to show the importance of learning French, because many people tell my peers and I that we will never use or benefit from our French skills like we would with another language. To put a fun spin on the topic, we had a magical French show-host type guy who can travel through time, and takes a student who can’t decide which language to take on a walk through her life, showing her how French will benefit her future!


"All for Nothing"

Music Video |  Runtime: 3:29

Director: Sema Madahar

Grade: Grade 11 from Millburn, NJ

Synopsis: 'All for Nothing' shows the duality of dealing with anxiety; outside perceptions can often mask the inner turmoil someone goes through. The contrast between day and night mirrors the way one acts in the face of anxiety– a collected appearance versus a trembling psyche– and sometimes when it gets to be too much, one can't help but snap.

​"Artist in Progress"

Documentary |  Runtime: 6:44

Director: Emily McNeill

Grade: Grade 12 from Colts Neck, NJ

Synopsis: A documentary about 17-year old artist Sebrina Gao who describes the inspiration and emotions behind her artwork.

"Bottle Cappers PSA"

Documentary |  Runtime: 2:36

Director: Raelynn Santoro

Grade: Grade 11 from Middletown, NJ (Middletown North High School)

Synopsis: PSA about the Bottle Cappers program at Middletown North High School.

"Bullying Awareness & Prevention Video”

Narrative |  Runtime: 5:56

Director: Kayla Fiore

Grade: Grade 7 from Scotch Plains, NJ (Terrill Middle School)

Synopsis: This film was created by middle school friends to increase awareness of the effects of bullying on teens and to raise money to benefit Mallory's Army.  On June 14, 2017, Mallory Grossman of Rockaway, NJ took her own life because of horrific bullying.  This film is dedicated to Mallory Grossman, Dianne Grossman and Mallory's Army. With the help of my friends and this video, to date we have raised $3,080 for Mallory's Army!

**Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains bullying themes**


​"Camp Friends"

Narrative |  Runtime: 8:15

Director: Madeline Manger (10)

Grade: Grade 4 from Westfield, NJ (Franklin Elementary School)

Synopsis: A bunch of friends are excited for a fun summer of camp, but when the camp director gets in their way of fun, they work together to get some sweet revenge.


​"Dancers that Inspire"

Documentary |  Runtime: 10:33

Director: Victoria Gomez (18)

Grade: Grade 12 from Morganville, NJ (Howell High School)

Synopsis: Everyone has a story, and everyone’s life is a journey. Those stories can either hold you back,or inspire others. We feel that each dancer should be recognized for their courage to develop the character and strength it takes to be authentic in the dance community.

​"Don’t Always Assume"

Documentary |  Runtime: 4:34

Director: Sierra Ciasco (15)

Grade: Grade 9 from Westfield, NJ (Westfield High School)

Synopsis: A teenage girl living with a disease that changes her life for good.



Music Video |  Runtime: 3:49

Director: Kyle Farscht

Grade: Grade 12 from Millburn, NJ

Synopsis: Music video featuring Powdered Elephants song "Drive." Kyle Farscht is the director, cinematographer, editor, color corrector & writer of this music video. Kyle is also band member of Powdered Elephants and wrote the music & lyrics, produced, and played the digital instruments for the song "Drive."



Narrative |  Runtime: 4:01

Director: Carli Platt (14)

Grade: Grade 8 from Millburn, NJ (Millburn Middle School)

Synopsis: Two friends deal with a mysterious illness. As they try to learn the truth, nothing is what it seems.

​"Fox in the Night"

Animation |  Runtime: 3:41

Director: Sophie Genovese-Mester

Grade: Grade 11 from Morganville, NJ

Synopsis: Izzy is a creative-minded girl that loves to spend time with her best friend Olivia. However, Olivia betrays her and Izzy is left confused and upset. These feelings manifest into a dreamscape full of whimsy, chaos, and fear all led by a seemingly harmless fox.

**Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains bullying themes**


​"Friends Forever"

Narrative |  Runtime: 1:32

Directors: Sophia Gross, Sophia Haber Brock, Sandie LiVolsi, Lauren Rubick

Grade: Grade 9 from Middletown, NJ (Middletown North High School)

Synopsis: A girl is walking in the woods and is haunted by her dead best friend.


​"Goodbye Napolini’s"

Narrative |  Runtime: 5:40

Director: Vaughn Battista (16)

Grade: Grade 11 from Tinton Falls, NJ (Communications High School)

Synopsis: The last scene between Ethan and Madeline, two lovers that just weren't meant to be.


​"Heroes Around Me: Fire Prevention Week with the Mountainside Fire Department"

Documentary |  Runtime: 5:00

Director: Sophie McMeekan (11)

Grade: Grade 5 from Scotch Plains, NJ (Park Middle School)

Synopsis: One week with the volunteers of the Mountainside Fire Department who work to educate the community about fire safety while giving their time to protect the citizens and property of the Borough of Mountainside.

​"Ireland 2018"

Music Video |  Runtime: 2:47

Director: Hailey Drake

Grade: Grade 12 from Middletown, NJ (Middletown North High School)

Synopsis: A compilation of shots from traveling around Ireland.


​"Iron Man vs Thanos"

Animation |  Runtime: 2:30

Director: Jeff Alcade

Grade: Grade 11 of Burlington Township, NJ (Burlington Township High School)

Synopsis: Student animation with Marvel superhero Iron Man battling villain Thanos.


Experimental |  Runtime: 1:40

Director: Melia Velez (17)

Grade: Grade 12 from Woodbridge, NJ (East Brunswick Tech - School of the Arts)

Synopsis: Exploring the concept of isolation and lack of control within one’s self-consciousness, as well as how certain influences can take over someone’s individuality.



Animation |  Runtime: 1:15

Director: Jake Eberle (16)

Grade: Grade 10 from Monroe Township, NJ (East Brunswick Tech - School of the Arts)

Synopsis: One Lego wants to explore what's beyond his box. He discovers there is more to his world than he ever knew.


​"La Decision"

Experimental |  Runtime: 1:16

Director: Jack Sanders (18)

Grade: Grade 12 from Atlantic Highlands, NJ (Henry Hudson Regional High School)

Synopsis: Un garçon essaie de se faire accepter et d'entrer dans un club. Ce film documente l'événement. (A boy tries to be accepted and to get into a club. This film documents the event.)


​"Losing Earth"

Music Video |  Runtime: 2:24

Director: Phoebe Yung

Grade: Grade 11 from Denville, NJ

Synopsis: A short dance film highlighting the issues of climate change.


​"Man’s Best Friend"

Animation |  Runtime: 2:44

Directors: Tyson Animation Senior Class (Suehelia Boss, Joshua Cruz, Darlena Frias, Tchealou Naomie Koudou, Geoffrey Rolling, Keshon Shears, Nishane Simms, China Smalley, Divine Williams)

Grade: Grade 12 of East Orange, NJ (Cicely Tyson High School)

Synopsis: A story of a boy and his new best friend...but things might not always be how they seem!


​"Music is Powerful"

Music Video |  Runtime: 2:46

Director: Yazemin Yilmaz

Grade: Grade 11 from Middletown, NJ (Middletown North High School)

Synopsis: This film was created with an array of footage that I had personally recorded in these past four years and I was able to match perfectly to the song.


​"Obscure Sorrows"

Experimental |  Runtime: 0:36

Director: Franchesca Rodriguez (17)

Grade: Grade 12 from Perth Amboy, NJ (East Brunswick Tech - School of the Arts)

Synopsis: A visualization on the sorrows we cover among the crowds.

​"Pieces of Mosaic"

Music Video |  Runtime: 2:00

Director: Yazemin Yilmaz

Grade: Grade 11 from Middletown, NJ (Middletown North High School)

Synopsis: A choreographed dance with a score that was donated by a music artist to go along with the dance in the film.


​"Raising the Stakes"

Narrative |  Runtime: 2:11

Director: Noah Perez (18)

Grade: Grade 12 from South River, NJ (East Brunswick Tech - School of the Arts)

Synopsis: “LET GO OF THE PREGNANT MAN!” Is not what you expect your ordinary officer to say. Neither is being held by finger point but that’s exactly what you get when you’re “Raising the Stakes”!

**Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains implied violence**



Music Video |  Runtime: 4:03

Director: Rachel Solomon

Grade: Grade 10 from Short Hills, NJ

Synopsis: Two friends meet because of their shared taste of music and love for dance.


​​"Royal - Luminosity"

Experimental |  Runtime: 3:00

Director: Amanda Clark (18)

Grade: Grade 12 from North Brunswick, NJ (East Brunswick Tech - School of the Arts)

Synopsis: Hearing the voices from above these people try to place the pieces of the confusing world into a moment of peace.

**Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains strobe lighting**

"Soul Searching"

Experimental |  Runtime: 1:13

Director: Caitlin Bieri (14)

Grade: Grade 9 from Old Bridge, NJ (East Brunswick Tech - School of the Arts)

Synopsis: This short explores the many different ways to read and understand a person.


​"The Elements"

Experimental |  Runtime: 1:37

Director: Austin Segal

Grade: Grade 11 from Basking Ridge, NJ

Synopsis: The four stages of grief (denial, anger, sadness, acceptance) represented by the four elements (air, fire, water, earth).


​"The Hunt"

Narrative |  Runtime: 3:21

Director: Alex Lehotsky

Grade: Grade 12 from Middletown, NJ (Middletown North High School)

Synopsis: Sisters searching for who stole all the chocolate almonds.



Narrative |  Runtime: 1:41

Directors: Noah Perez, Emily Ortiz, Michael Garlatti

Grade: Grade 12 from South River, NJ (East Brunswick Tech - School of the Arts)

Synopsis: “You get one shot at this, don’t mess it up!” Timer is an intense action thriller putting everything on the line. Your life is on a time limit ... Can you beat the clock?

**Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains implied violence**



Experimental |  Runtime: 1:33

Director: Nidhi Patel (17) and Maria Martinez (16)

Grade: Grade 11 from Old Bridge, NJ & Carteret, NJ

Synopsis: A girl having a chaotic nightmare, only to find herself as the cause of her troubles.

**Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains horror themes**


​"What Could Go Wrong?"

Narrative |  Runtime: 5:08

Director: Jillian Roche (18)

Grade: Grade 12 from Chatham, NJ (Chatham High School)

Synopsis: An awkward teenage boy let's his overactive imagination get the best of him while searching for a way to talk to his crush.


​"Witches Amongst Us"

Narrative |  Runtime: 12:44

Director: Karenna Azcona

Grade: Grade 12 from East Orange, NJ (Cicely L Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts)

Synopsis: The story about an uncle's experience with a witch known as Odessa whose goal was to make children’s lives miserable and possess their essence.

**Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains horror themes**

"Wrong Generation"

Music Video |  Runtime: 2:40

Director: Amanda Keating (18)

Grade: Grade 12 from Sayreville, NJ (East Brunswick Tech - School of the Arts)

Synopsis: Taking place at the Silverball Pinball Museum in Asbury Park, NJ “Wrong Generation”, will make you feel as if you traveled back in time.

"You Have the Right to Remain Silent"

Narrative |  Runtime: 8:22

Director: Jordan Miller (16)

Grade: Grade 11 from Maplewood, NJ (Columbia High School)

Synopsis: After his father is murdered, Walter McManus embarks on his transformation to becoming the detective he was meant to be.

**Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains implied violence**

"You Reap What You Sow"

Animation |  Runtime: 2:09

Director: Jacob Updyke

Grade: Grade 10 from Millburn, NJ

Synopsis: When 5-year old Thomas is evacuating the city with his mother, he has some questions about why they have to go. Told entirely through animation, the film is a warning and call to action about the state of our climate.

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