A film that “Makes Us Matter”

Student’s feature praising essential workers accepted into All-American High School Film Festival


Provided by Julian Rodriguez

A excerpt from BVH Senior Julian Rodriguez’s nominated film “What Makes Us Matter”. Julian Rodriguez uses silhouettes as a creative way to describe the importance of wearing a mask.

Grace Na and Brandon Giles

On Thursday, July 22, the All-American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) announced that Bonita Vista High (BVH) senior Julian Rodriguez, along with other high school students, was accepted into the film competition. 

AAHSFF is a film festival that is set in New York City, where high school students interested in film production can connect with each other through the activities offered at the event. It features special events, a large college fair and competitions where students compete for prizes.

“I was always fascinated with movies and television. It wasn’t just viewing them, but the creation of how they made such brilliant works back then is what really fascinated me. I ultimately get inspired by movies from the past such as the works of Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese,” J. Rodriguez said. Rodriguez created a film titled, “What Makes Us Matter”, that got selected by the AAHSFF. The film was created during quarantine and serves as a public service announcement praising essential workers. Additionally, J. Rodriguez’s inspiration was exemplified by how vital they are to the success of the world.

According to J. Rodriguez, the film was originally made for the Ninth District Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Art Reflections Contest. Ultimately, he won the award of excellence in San Diego and Imperial county. However, seeing as it did not move on further, J. Rodriguez submitted it to the AAHSFF.

“The All American High School film festival [stood out to me] because it’s the largest high school student film festival in the world. I saw how creative people were [in the festival] and how there were submissions from other countries. It was interesting to me how grand this festival was so I [have] been wanting to participate ever since,” J. Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez’s passion for film is supported by his family. They support him by sitting down and listening to his ideas, going out of their way to get the supplies needed to conduct his film, and even acting in his films, according to J. Rodriguez.

“[Julian] says ‘mom, do you think this is a good idea?’ I’ll give him feedback [and] I don’t hold anything back. I just tell him straight out. [He will listen] to me and then he fixes it his way,” J. Rodriguez’s mom, Birdie Rodriguez said. “Being here for him is the most important thing.”

Rodriguez also received support from his Bonita Vista Television (BVTV) class, especially from his multimedia teacher Hugo Martinez, who showed great pride in him. To show support, the class started to spread the news that J. Rodriguez was chosen for the AAHSFF.

“I learned about [Julian getting accepted into the festival] and [I was thought], ‘Julian, we want to support you. Give us the opportunity to be part of this.’ He felt a little bad and said, ‘Mr. Martinez, I just don’t want to show off.’ I told him ‘Julian you’re right but it’s not only about us, but [it’s also] about others that we can inspire. Celebration always brings motivation. We celebrate you, in this case,’” Martinez said.

According to J. Rodriguez, this festival is his biggest achievement throughout his whole high school career. Additionally, his film, along with the other student’s films, will be featured at the AMC Theater in Times Square.

“I feel amazing. It’s so awesome to see your work on the big screen and to see other people watching it. Before, the only way I could distribute my films to people was through YouTube. But having the opportunity to have your movie shown on screen is amazing, especially at a big theater,” J. Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is looking forward to making more short films and working in teams in the future. The process of creating a movie is something he is looking forward to.

“Filming is important to me personally because I always had creative desires to show what I feel [and] think. Having the opportunity to show people what’s going on in somebody’s head but also entertain them at the same time, I always found that really fascinating, ” J. Rodriguez said.