Westflix is a celebration of the best short films produced by high school students throughout California. The films were historically showcased in an evening screening at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood and followed by a day of workshops with industry professionals at Harvard-Westlake School, the sponsor of Westflix. With the onset of COVID-19, Westflix'20 and '21 occurred online. Most recently, though, Westflix'22 was held in person at the TCL Chinese Theatre!
Now in its 20th year, Westflix (formerly Harvard-Westlake Film Festival) has come a long way since its start. Founded in 2004 by Harvard-Westlake alumna Elizabeth Yale ’04 with guidance from her teachers Cheri Gaulke and Ted Walch, the first festival showcased the films in Harvard-Westlake’s Rugby Theater with alum Jake Gyllenhaal as its speaker. In 2008 the venue changed to ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood to accommodate the festival’s expanding audience. In 2022 the venue changed to TLC Chinese Theatres in Hollywood. The festival continues to expand each year under new student leadership and faculty advisors Reb L Limerick and Brannon Rockwell-Charland Cook.
Westflix serves as a premium showcase for high school filmmakers throughout California. Films are selected by a committee of students, teachers and industry professionals who view the entries and choose the finalists. A judging panel of industry professionals chooses winners in many different categories. Previous judges include Peter Gallagher, Kevin Costner, Sarah Timberman, Ellie Wen, Reginald Hudlin, Fran Kranz, Yvette Lee Bowser, and others.
Each year, the festival evening features a keynote speaker who is chosen to talk about their career and success in the film industry. Throughout the years, we have had the privilege of hosting, among others, Tom Hanks, Jamie Lee Curtis ’76, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Guillermo del Toro, Jason Reitman ’95, Aaron Sorkin, Allejandro Inarritu, Edgar Wright, Spike Jonze, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, and Jordan Peele.
The 2011 festival began a new tradition. On Saturday, following the annual screening, Harvard-Westlake plays host to all of the festival filmmakers and their crews for a day of conversation with each other and workshops with film professionals.
Westflix is produced by members of the Harvard-Westlake School community and thus holds values of diversity, equity, and inclusion at its core. Each year we work to reach further to include and uplift the voices and stories of a more diverse range of young filmmakers across the state. Westflix is a brave space for creative expression and education that celebrates and recognizes student artists of different identities and backgrounds. In the past, we’ve been proud to showcase films by queer filmmakers, poc filmmakers, first generation filmmakers, female filmmakers, first time filmmakers, filmmakers with disabilities, and other students of marginalized communities, who were able to share their own stories via our platform. As arbiters of media, we understand how much representation matters and will continue to expand our scope.
To learn more about the history of the festival and watch previous award-winning student films, visit hw.com/Westflix.
Our industry professional judges help us determine various awards in categories such as directing, cinematography, editing, etc. These honors are announced at the festival. In addition we sometimes have scholarship awards to various film-making programs. All selected filmmakers receive trophies the night of the festival.
-We accept all forms - narratives, documentaries, public service announcements, animations, music videos, poetry videos, experimental, etc.
-Eligibility: Open ONLY to high school students (grades 9-12) residing in the state of California. We also accept films made by graduated seniors if the film was produced in the previous school year. All work may have been produced during the previous or current school year.
-Length of Film: 10 minutes maximum. We encourage the submission of shorter works so that we can showcase more filmmakers.
-Rights and licensing: By submitting a film to the Harvard-Westlake Film Festival, filmmakers affirm that they have cleared all rights to materials within their films including but not limited to music rights, actors releases, etc.
To get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit www.hw.com/filmfestival.