Riverhead student wins big at New York Long Island Film Festival

A Riverhead High School student clinched a trio of awards at the New York Long Island Film Festival on Saturday.

Riverhead junior Emma Acritelli’s featured short film, “Cons of Collecting Dust,” won the awards for Best Animation, Best Micro Short and the Spirit of NYLIFF Award at the three-day film festival, which held its fifth incarnation in Lindenhurst last week.

Emma was one of the Riverhead High School students enrolled in a digital filmmaking course who submitted works for this year’s film festival, an island-wide event that featured nearly 100 films made by both students and professional filmmakers. Emma’s film features a stop-motion animated stuffed dog trekking up stairs, across floors and through doors to find its distant companion, a young woman trying to sleep in her bed, with intercut still images showing how she once held the stuffed pup tight in her sleep.

“As I was making the credits I didn’t know what I was going to call it,” Emma said in a red carpet interview with Gerry Ferretti, the film festival’s director. “The whole idea, I thought back to myself, is how it’s about being away from others, and while you are collecting dust, other people are growing and changing.”

Caitlin Sheridan, Emma’s digital filmmaking teacher, praised the junior’s animation skills.

“Emma undoubtedly deserves all of the accolades that she is receiving for this film,” Ms. Sheridan said in a press release. “She was given a vague prompt for the project and went above and beyond the expectations. The film did not need to incorporate stop-motion animation, but she based her whole film on these challenging techniques, which came out phenomenally.”

In digital filmmaking, students like Emma, who hopes to pursue filmmaking in college, can build portfolios to be used for film school applications.

“We are excited about the district’s ability to provide this impactful course and truly hope that more Riverhead students take advantage of the amazing resources we have available,” Ms. Sheridan said. “Our class has become a family, and the support the students provide to one another is exactly what I hope for as an educator.”