The coronavirus pandemic has motivated some to buy a Nintendo Switch, others to inhale bags of Cheetos, and Dos Pueblos High School junior Tara Woodard to organize a community arts festival. The 805 Youth Film and Arts Festival (805YFAF) is a free, online display of short or full-length films, vlogs, poems, photography, visual art, music, literature, and more, and launches June 30 for public viewing.
The COVID-19 lockdown hit Woodard hard, turning the renaissance teen’s life — she is the lead student producer of her high school’s news program, an AP art prodigy, a reporter for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and an ambitious filmmaker herself — on its head.
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Fulfilling social needs while abiding by the imposed physical-distancing restrictions is challenging. So, Woodard teamed up with her three best friends — Nate Vance (DPHS), Maya Samarasena (DPHS), and Maxine Borders (SBHS) — to foster solidarity in Santa Barbara through art. Working on a project together has only strengthened their friendship in this trying time, she said.
“I had a really great idea with my film mates in a class I’m in right now, but, given the situation, that all fell out the window,” shared Woodard in a phone interview. “While I’ve been able to still make films, it is definitely hard to have your creative expression limited. That’s why we opened our festival to previously made works so everyone can show what they could do.”
Open to Santa Barbara County youth ages 12-19 years old, 805YFAF is currently accepting submissions through June 15. The categories include film, fine art, photography, poetry, and literature. There is also a special submission subcategory called “Outstanding 805,” for artists to feature work inspired by the Santa Barbara/805 area. In addition to bringing the community together through art, the event is a fundraiser for Direct Relief, the Santa Barbara–based nonprofit that provides medical supplies during emergency situations. (Only teenagers can submit their projects, but anyone can make a monetary contribution to help Direct Relief.)
While Woodard has created a rewarding project to focus on during the months in quarantine, she cannot help but wonder what her senior year will be like. “I hope I’ll be able to have milestones like homecoming and prom and graduation,” she said. “I’m hoping for the best and I’m hoping our country can figure out a way to make things safer for everyone.”
4•1•1 | To submit entries, donate to 805YFAF’s Direct Relief campaign, and learn more about the student entrepreneurs behind the scenes, see 805youthfilmandarts.weebly.com.