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Buffalo stars in youth videos

Imagine the history of Buffalo caught on film.

Thanks to Squeaky Wheel, the Buffalo Youth Media Institute program created by the Main Street visual arts organization, 12 young artists have been given the chance to translate their cinematic visions of Buffalo's past into professional-quality films.

For the second year in a row, Squeaky Wheel has provided the resources for young people ages 13 to 18 to create short films on a Buffalo-related topic. This year, the directors selected the waterfront as the theme -- and got some very interesting responses.

Rachel Fein-Smolinski, 14, of Buffalo, made a five-minute film about the numerous suicides and daredevil stunts that have occurred at Niagara Falls.

"A lot of people were doing theirs about redevelopment," she said, "but I wanted to do something different."

Joe Felong, 17, of Orchard Park, made a film about the "infected district," a famously crime-ridden section on the waterfront in the 19th century that eventually was torn down.

"The history of Buffalo is so rich and colorful," he said. "I want to show people a hidden part of the city's history."

The program, which provides young people funding -- they are paid $5 per hour -- and professional resources and advice, aims to provide often-scarce film resources to budding artists.

Intern Joe Lopez, 18, who graduated from St. Mary's High School in Lancaster and plans to study film at Fredonia State College, said he appreciated the opportunity to use Squeaky Wheel's resources.

Jacklyn Farris, the project director, said the program, which had 60 applicants, exposes young filmmakers to the artistic community and teaches them useful skills and techniques.

Like the other program participants, Kameron Wood, 15, of Buffalo, who came in with some knowledge of film, started his project nine months ago. After making a story board, doing research, filming and editing, he is almost ready to show his film, which focuses on a man who has lived on or near the waterfront for four decades.

The students will screen their finished projects beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, 639 Main St.


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