(OCEAN GROVE, NJ) -- Manalapan filmmaker Amanda Katz is only a senior at Howell High School, but her work has already been selected for two New Jersey film festivals. Katz's short film "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" will be screened on Sunday, March 27th at 9:30am as part of the Garden State Film Festival. Her previous film, "Too Close to Home," won best sound design at the New Jersey High School Film Challenge.
"This is truly so exciting," Katz said. "I am so grateful that more people are able to see the important story told in my film."
"He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" is a personal story that Katz wrote, directed, filmed and edited. The two-minute film discusses the themes of toxic and abusive relationships, which Katz told Patch "was not easy" and "took a lot of work and planning."
The film came from Katz's personal experiences in a past relationship.
"I believe that the best art comes from those intense emotions that are bottled up inside," Katz said. After getting out of her own toxic relationship, Katz channeled her feelings into art and immediately got to work on writing her film.
“We are extremely proud to present 'He Loves Me, He Loves Me' Not as a part of our 20th Annual Film Festival, and to share this work with our global audience,” says Lauren Concar Sheehy, the festival’s Executive Director."
Creating "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" was a form of therapy for Katz, and the result was more than she could have hoped for.
When asked about what she wants viewers to take away from her film, Katz said, "I want the audience to understand that putting yourself first is never the wrong option."
Her goal in the film was to explore parts of abusive relationships that are not talked about at the high school level. "No one should ever manipulate you into doing things you don't want to. You are the most important thing. No one should ever take that away from you."
Katz has found the Fine and Performing Arts Center (FPAC) at Howell High School to be a valuable resource throughout her time there. One of Katz's teachers, Scott Napolitano, has been her biggest supporter. "He never dismisses my ideas and always encourages me. I can't express how grateful I am to him, "Katz said.
Alongside her experience in the FPAC, Katz has spent her time working as a production assistant on senior films at Montclair State University and Rutgers University.
In the future, Katz wants to stay in film, and was already accepted into Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Recently she has been working on her senior thesis, which will be a 15-minute narrative film coming out in May.
"The Garden State Film Festival promotes student creativity, makes the arts accessible to underserved populations and preserves heritage arts," said Festival Founder Diane Raver.
This year’s festival will take place in-person from March 23-27 and virtually from March 28 to April 3, 2022. All films will be presented live at various venues while adhering to COVID -19 New Jersey State Mandates.
"He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" will be screened on Sunday, March 27 at 9:30am at the Jersey Shore Arts Center (66 S Main Street in Ocean Grove, NJ). It will also be available to stream online from March 28 to April 3, 2022. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.