BRADENTON -- Some films brought laughter Friday evening to a crowd inside the Manatee Performing Arts Center.
Other films, such as one on the scars felt from bullying, were somber.
There were comedies, animated shorts and even a public service video on how to prevent head lice.
The films were mostly created by K-12 students from the Manatee County School District, many of whom received recognition and awards during the 10th Annual Film Rush Manatee! -- an event sponsored by the Manatee Association for Media in Education as part of Film Rush: A Jim Harbin Student Media Festival.
As the night progressed, students walked onto the stage with wide smiles and accepted miniature Academy Award-style trophies and ribbons.
"It is our 10th year. This is a big deal," said Film Rush Co-Chairwoman Joanne Torlucci, who teaches video production at Braden River Middle School. "Film Rush Manatee! is a Jim Harbin
Student Media Festival for K-12 students. Tonight we celebrate our students -- students who dream, students who create, students who make a difference in our world. Those on stage tonight are just a few of our students who amaze us everyday. This may be their first time on stage, but it certainly won't be their last."
Marie Masferrer, Film Rush co-chairwoman and a library media specialist at R. Dan Nolan Middle School, said this year she and her fellow organizers received 73 film submissions, which she described as an amazing amount.
A jury comprised of Manatee school officials and Bradenton Herald staff reviewed the student films and selected the top entries.
Anabelle Lam, 11, won first place in animation alongside her peer, Tate Goodman, in the elementary school category for a clay animation short about fruit being turned into a fruit salad. One by one, each piece of fruit -- complete with eyes -- are cut with a knife and placed into a plastic bowl.
"I feel really excited," Anabelle said about placing first, adding they got the idea from YouTube.
Ryanne Widmeier, 11, was one of several Sea Breeze Elementary students who won first place for a comedy film titled "Star News Network."
The film, a comedic take on a late night news show, focused on a tornado disaster that was half-tornado, half-tomato. In one scene, a male TV news reporter is hit with chunks of tomato, his eyes squinting off to the side of the camera as a peer wrapped in plastic spins around and around behind him (playing the role of the tornado). The crowd erupted in laughter as the "disaster" unfolds on the big screen.
"It caused a disaster all throughout the area," Ryanne told a Herald reporter during intermission as she held onto her trophy.
Her mother, Carmen Denham, smiled.
"I'm so proud. It's amazing," Denham said of her daughter's win. "I just think that the school allowing the kids to express themselves in such a positive way and have fun and learning is fun. I just think it's great.
Denham said her daughter treated the making of the film as a sort of secret.
"Throughout the process it was kind of like hush-hush," the proud mother said. "And then you just have to wait to see it."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.